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GOL, health workers agreement commendable

The Government of Liberia recently announced what it referred to as a ‘bumper hazard pay and death benefits for healthcare workers at the frontline of the battle against the deadly Ebola disease across the country. Though Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh made specific reference to health workers in the public health service, he said the deal was reached with health workers out of a motivational standpoint, considering the hazardous nature of the national health crisis with which the government and people of Liberia are currently confronted.

According to him, the Liberian Government was “bending backward” at the cost of US$30m of six months amid the economic difficulties in which it is engulfed, to motivate “our foot soldiers” in the war against Ebola beginning September. This is a move Liberian health workers do, not only welcome, but appreciated comparing the country’s case with those of neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone. “We have reached an agreement that the government will cover hazard pay and death benefits for all public healthcare and non-healthcare workers to enhance GOL’s Ebola response.”

Immediately following its Tuesday, September 30 closed door meeting with the healthcare workers at the headquarters of Liberia Medical and Dental Counsel in Monrovia, the government, through Minister Konneh, indicated that under the agreement, the amount of US$5,000.00 will be paid to survivors of each worker succumbing to Ebola as flat death benefit, while supervisors and medical doctors at each Ebola Treatment Unit or ETU will be paid US$850.00 and US$825.00 respectively.

As part of the deal, ETU Managers and General practitioners will receive US$450.00, while Nurses and Laboratory Technicians will be paid US$435.00. Drivers of Ambulances, Ebola case investigators and social workers will be paid US$350, while hygienists and logisticians will receive US$300, among others, while doctors, nurses and other health practitioners not dealing with Ebola-related cases will also benefit from the government’s monthly hazard pay program, according to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning.

“When Ebola struck our country, it was our healthcare workers that were hurt the most; these men and women are the soldiers on the frontline of this fight and so we must appreciate the sacrifices they are making.”

The Liberia Medical and Dental Council, through its National Head, Dr. John Mulbah, described the process leading to the agreement as transparent; “The government drafted the proposal and brought it to us; and at the same time, allowed us sufficient time to study the agreement, following which we discussed it among ourselves as health care workers and derived at the benefit pay rates.”

Judging from the foregoing, we are of the strong conviction that the government’s earnest and primary objective, amid the current down-ward of the Liberian economy, is to intensify the ‘war’ against Ebola to restore and keep hope alive in the country. To practically achieve the foregoing objective, our -foot soldiers’- the health workers, in all capacities, must now rise above the fray with the highest degree of the “Florence Nightingale Spirit”  to ensure that Liberia wins the battle against Ebola.

Towards this, it is also now incumbent on us all-Liberians to fully cooperate with the Government of Liberia and health workers doing away with denial, cultural practices and carelessness, and adhere to all of the necessary preventive measures already before us as the first practical step to win the war against the deadly Ebola disease. By this, our ‘foot soldiers’- the health workers will be further motivated to triple or even quadruple their efforts and finally bring this national health crisis to an end.

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