Finally, after 11 months, President Surangel Whipps Jr. has appointed Mr. Gaafar J. Uherbelau to the position of Minister of Health & Human Services, the last of the 8 ministries of his cabinet to be filled.
Mr. Uherbelau is currently the Administrator for Health Policy, Research and Development Office under the Bureau of Public Health, but he is probably best known publicly for his temporary position of Deputy Incident Commander of Emergency Operations Center (EOC), particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic where he served as the main spokesperson on matters of the pandemic.
Calm public response while under the pandemic can be partially attributed to his calm, methodical and clear articulation of answers to concerns raised during the entire year of living under the shadow of the pandemic.
Uherbelau’s resume shows that he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science for Public Health and Politics & International Relations (double majors). He served in the US Army with a position of Paralegal Specialist (27D). He had also worked at the Ministry of Health in various positions since 2007 including being the coordinator for CDC PHHS Block Grant, Social Marketer for Community Advocacy Program, and Acting Chief of Division of Environmental Health.
He had held other positions outside the Ministry of Health including being principal consultant of the MIGATHE CONSULTING, columnist for Pacific Island Times (Palau/Guam/CNMI) paper.
He is currently the chairperson of the Palau National Scholarship Board and Chairperson of the Palau Red Cross Society. He is Obama Leader, Obama Foundation – Asia-Pacific, and Board member of Palau Table Tennis Federation.
In his appointment letter, President Whipps said of Uherbelau that he “has the leadership experience and dedication to serve and foster a successful Ministry, especially during these unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
His nomination was submitted on Wednesday this week and it is expected to be addressed at the next convening of the Senate.