The Government of Liberian has announced a US$5,000 death benefit package for families of health workers who died in the Ebola fight across the country. Scores of health workers at various health centers have died while catering to Ebola patients, prompting some of their colleagues to abandon work in demand of better pay and incentives.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, September 30th at the JFK hospital compound in Sinkor, Monrovia, Acting Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh, said the government and health workers have reached an understanding where they will receive hazard pay, death benefits along with other incentives effective end of September for the next six months in combating the deadly Ebola virus.
Minister Konneh said out of the 52 million received from the World Bank, a total of 30 million dollars was spent on hazard pay, including other benefits with Medical Doctors receiving US$825 US as hazard pay apart from other benefits, while managers of Ebola Treatment Units or ETUs receive US$450.00 and nurses, Physician Assistants, and midwives, respectively receive US$300, among others.
He said, though at the initial stage of the outbreak, many health workers abandoned job as a result of fear, they are still important to the country and are being covered under the scheme. Konneh described health workers as soldiers on the battlefield, noting that they’re turning away from major hospitals and clinics was due to fear in the face of lack of personal protective equipment or PPEs and other safety materials.
The minister explained that health workers play an essential role in the fight against the deadly Ebola outbreak, which started in neighboring Guinea and has caused serious threat to West African countries, especially in Liberia, where the death toll is nearly 2,000, including health care workers and Doctors trying to save lives.
He said the government’s decision to comply with the health workers’ demand is to enable them to be pro-active in the line of duty, adding, “Because we don’t want people to have a safe delivery on themselves or abandoning ordinary sick people in the country.”
Meanwhile, a member of the Liberian Dental Council, Dr. John K. Mulbah, has expressed gratitude to the government for responding to the plight of health workers.
He called on workers not to turn their backs on sick patients, adding that remember, that you took oath in this profession to save life and humanity; don’t use the Ebola virus disease as a way of leaving people who are in need of medical treatments.”
According to him, the Liberia Medical and Dental Council or LMDC will not relent in targeting affected communities in order to reduce the rapid spread of the virus.