Ministry of Health mum on replacing MRCU director

The Ministry of Health is keeping quiet on the absence of Mosquito Research and Control Unit director Dr. James McNelly, amid rumours that his contract has not been renewed.

As of today (Monday, 12 April), the MRCU’s website stated Dr. Alan Wheeler, the unit’s deputy director, was now acting in McNelly’s stead. In addition, McNelly is no longer listed on the site. It is not clear how long Wheeler has been the acting director, nor if he will take on the role permanently.

In August, Nellie Pouchie, the ministry’s acting chief officer, told the then-Legislative Assembly there was an internal investigation under way, following a leaked letter of no-confidence against McNelly, which alleged that under “his leadership the mosquito population was spreading across the island”. The findings of the investigation have not been made public.

Dr. Jim McNelly

That same month, McNelly’s job was advertised in the Cayman Compass, as rumours mounted that he was under pressure to resign. At that time, he told the Compass he had “no intention of resigning”. McNelly was appointed to the role in 2018.

The Compass reached out to the health ministry for clarification on McNelly’s contract, and if it hadn’t been renewed, if the letter of no-confidence played any role in the decision.

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A ministry spokesperson said, “The Ministry of Health, Employment, Culture and Housing does not comment on ongoing recruitment or personal employee details/matters.”

Cayman Compass also reached out to Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who heads the civil service, about McNelly’s job status. No reply had been received by publication.

The Compass has not been able to contact McNelly for comment.

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