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Health Workers Return to Work

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaHundreds of health workers, including nurses working for government are back to work nationwide, having abandoned assignment and embarked on an indefinite strike early this week in demand of salary and incentives.

Liberia is one of many countries in the grip of a health worker crisis; trained professionals are needed to reduce disease. Photograph: Save The Children/Aubrey Wade

Their decision to resume duty followed intervention by civil society organizations and the Minister of Health and Social Welfare here, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, with a promise to sign a memorandum of understanding next Wednesday in Monrovia.

The head of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia Joseph Tamba, told the media Tuesday that they have agreed to return to work.

He said the “change of mind” was based on an appeal by civil society bodies and Minister Gwenigale at an emergency meeting on Monday, which lasted up to dusk.

“We have resumed work today (Tuesday) with the understanding of signing a formal agreement next Wednesday which will include salaries increment, better incentives and absorbing 2,000 nurses into the system for full employment,” Tamba said.

As a result of the go-slow, public hospitals and clinics across the country were affected, leaving patients unattended to. Tamba disclosed that he was confronted by Police Director Chris Massaquoi via mobile phone, expressing concern that the health workers’ action was causing problem for the country.

Late last week, the country’s health workers gave government a three-day ultimatum to address their dissatisfaction or else they would have abandoned work early this week (Monday).

A fortnight ago, Deputy Health Minister and Chief Medical Officer, Bernice Dahn told the national budget hearing committee at the Capitol that more than 5,000 health workers were not on government payroll. She said the issue was somehow embarrassing not only  to the Health Ministry, but the entire country to have trained people provide services without salary.

Health, like Education, receives huge allotment annually in the national budget, but personnel of both ministries are noted for going on strike in demand of pay; TKS writes.

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