Civil society organizations in Gbarnga, Bong County say they are joining nurses across the country in their stay home action. Although the nurses’ action is concentrated at health centers, civil society members say they will block streets and bring normal activities to a halt until government can adequately address the health workers’ concerns.
They have also vowed to ensure that markets are closed. Appearing on a local community radio station in Gbarnga (Super Bongese Radio), the civil society leaders described as frustrating for the government take their health and those of other Liberians for joke, stressing that the action by the health workers was repeatedly spoken about, but government refused to listen.
They said it was saddened to see innocent people dying in the country due to government’s reckless attitude toward professionals who are saving the lives of ordinary citizens despite the poor healthcare delivery system in the country. Prominent among the civil society leaders, Madam Dorothy Tooman expressed the belief that the government was careless about the health of its people because its officials were always travelling out of country for medical treatment. They cited several instances of government officials leaving the country, including Finance Minister Amara Conneh.
They have asked all members of their respective organizations groups to join the struggle as they try pursuing their right to health services. According to the civil society officials if this is not done, the government will continue to take the Liberian people as fools without regarding that the power is inherent in the people. According to our Bong County correspondent, since the nurses’ stay home action last week Monday, several deaths continue to be reported, especially in the county remote areas as ambulances that usually move in and out for patients are no more doing so.
Phebe Hospital, the only referral hospital in the county, has already had about four, while many of patients have left the hospital to seek medical attention at private health facilities. The hospital is currently like a ghost town with offices. Pregnant women are now using traditional method of delivery as the C. B Dumbar Maternity Hospital also appears to be virtually closed at the moment. Some young people in the county have threatened legal action against the government for its failure to adequately meet the health needs.
Meanwhile, the head of the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), Bong County branch says her marketers will not participate in the action called for by the civil society action. According to Madam Viola Cooper, it will be wrong for nurses to be on strike, while marketers also go on strike. Madam Cooper said the situation will further increase the death rate as sick people will not have access to food. She said while it is true that her colleagues have genuine reason, they should understand the risk involved if businesses are closed.
A formal agreement is expected to be reached on Wednesday between the Ministry of Health and Liberian health workers for better salaries and incentives, as well as full employment for hundreds of nurses, midwives, as well as physician assistants, among others yet to be employed by the Health Ministry.