He succeeded Hiradyesh Tripathi, who was former minister of federal affairs and general administration. Because he graduated in political science from Russia, he had been entrusted by the Oli administration to buy 5 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.
Tripathi had negotiated with the Serum Institute India for the purchase of 2 million doses of the Covishield AstraZeneca vaccine and even sent advance payment. But only 1 million doses were delivered, before India banned the export of vaccines.
Tripathi later blamed the Serum Institute of India’s representatives in Nepal of trying to take a bigger cut from the next order of 5 million doses for the failure to produce vaccines in time. This allegation was later refuted by the representatives, Hukam Distribution & Logistics, which said it was due to India’s ban, and that it was just following the law that allowed 10% commission.
As the second wave surged through Nepal in April, Tripathi said in an interview with Nepali Times that the pandemic had overwhelmed Nepal’s health system and it could not contain the pandemic. He said it was now up to the public to take proper precautions.
Before Tripathi, the health minister was Bhanubhakta Dhakal, who was in charge when the first scandals broke in the procurement of Covid-19 test kits through Omni International, a local company. The kits were found to be faulty and overpriced.
Dhakal was made Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister during a reshuffle last year.