Liberian health workers assigned at the ELWA and John F. Kennedy Ebola Treatment Centers in Monrovia are reported to have staged a strike action early this week. The go-slow action by the health workers, according to an official of the Liberian Health Ministry, was in demand of the August 2014 salaries. The strike action followed a meeting of the minds between the workers and officials of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare on August 29, 2014 in Monrovia, regarding increment in their salaries under the current emergency after they (health workers) had earlier demanded an increment of US$1500.00 for nurses and US$3000.00 for Doctors.
As the result of the last Friday’s meeting, according to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Liberia and Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyesua, a common ground was reached to pay “hazard allowances” to the health workers to the tune of US$850. 00 for nurses, US$500.00 and US$250.00 for hygienists and others, while Doctors will be paid US$1500.00. But why the foregoing “hazard allowances” were being processed, the health workers reportedly decoded to staged the slow action at the ELWA and J.F.K. treatment Centers- only because of the delay in the payment.
Interestingly, the “hazard allowances” mentioned are not the same as the regular salaries of the health workers, according to the Health Ministry official. The Government of Liberia is making these payments, other than the regular salaries, owing to the hazardous and sensitive nature of the Ebola treatment administered by health workers to suspected victims of the disease.
In as much as we commend and cherish Liberian health workers for their passion and commitment to serving humanity, their action was equally WRONG and unfair to the Government of Liberia that continues to bend “beyond backward” amid the current economic situation to meet up with their demands. The health workers’ action may just be indicative of their desire not to appreciate the advocacy roles we and others continue to play in encouraging the government to hold them at the highest esteem prior to and during the deadly Ebola outbreak.
We are of the fervent belief that a delay for a day or two to pay health workers, especially when “hazard allowance” payments were made to them for the month of July, would not have warranted such action when the month had just ended.
Our health workers must understand that while they are at the “front line” of the war against Ebola, the Government of Liberia was equally mobilizing the resources to capacitate them for the Ebola war, while we continue to alert the government and partners on the urgent need for such capacity-building. And so, the scarifies are not only being made by health workers; we all are making the scarifies to ensure that the Ebola disease is eradicated once and for all. Health workers must appreciate whatever is being done now to capacitate them as “hazard allowances” and do their best in keeping with their medical oath. They must not make us to be disappointed; we cherish them for their commitment, efforts and passion to serve humanity.