Oral history interview with Mohamed Salah Ben Ammar, 2015
In 2014, Mohamed Salah ben Ammar was appointed Minister of Health in the Mehdi Jomaa government. From 2011 to 2013, he served as director-general of health in the same ministry. Before that, from 1992 to 2011, he headed the anesthesia-resuscitation department at the Mongi-Slim University Hospital of La Marsa. He became university professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Tunis in 1998.
Scope and Contents
Mohamed Salah ben Ammar, former Minister of Health in the Jomaa cabinet, recalls the demonstration at Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis on 14 January 2011. Though he had always opposed the Ben Ali regime, things were not black and white, and some RCD members did well by Tunisia. He describes being reluctant to accept the minister position, which he had declined twice before accepting Jomaa's offer. Post-revolution, he served as the General Director of Health at the Ministry, leaving as quickly as possible when Ennahda came into power in October 2011. He discusses how in that post, he dealt extensively with the large inflows of refugees that came to Tunisia following the uprisings in Libya. He was working at l'Instance nationale de l'accréditation en santé when Jomaa called him for an interview. Already committed to democracy since the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi in July 2013, he immediately accepted. The Jomaa cabinet rapidly became a team. Ben Ammar felt both supported and independent, and he weighs the pros and cons of governing outside of a political party. He describes the important progress the government made for democracy during this period, while working within a narrow mandate. Though he does not acknowledge any contributions to the revolution by the professional opposition to the Ben Ali regime, he concedes that a party system functions better than direct democracy. Finally, Ben Ammar analyzes the state of the health system in Tunisia, and speaks to both ideal solutions and the implementation of steps in the right direction.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2015.