Amid protects by health workers across the country, demanding better incentives and par rise, the Maryland County Health Team in collaboration with Partner In Health has conducted a day-long awareness against drinking of alcoholic beverages.
The campaign was held recently in Harper and Pleebo districts, respectively, bringing together health workers, youths, elders, women and owners of entertainment centers in the county.
Miss Augustus Nagba, county health focus person, said the awareness was intended to sensitize citizens about harmful alcohol poses to the human body. She said often, citizens are badly affected from drinking alcohol because they are not aware of its sad effects.
“Let me inform you as you have gathered here today to witness this occasion that marks the awareness of citizens against the drinking of alcohol, that alcohol is dangerous to your health and you need to know this”, she said. The county health focus person said although the sensitization lasted for only a day, but should bring change in citizens’ lives.
She lamented though it is difficult to change everybody at once, the awareness will help in reducing the constant drinking of alcohol. “My people, let me be clear to you that alcohol can damage your lungs, liver and heart, so we need to stop drinking alcohol”, she continued.
She advised citizens to pay heed because the health system of Liberia can’t treat someone who has damaged his or her lung or liver by drunkenness. For their part, participants commended the Maryland County Health Team for initiating the awareness against excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages.
At the same time, Maryland County health workers have joined their colleagues across the country in demand of salary and benefits. Since the national stay home protest by health workers started, several patients have been abandoned in hospitals.
A 30-year-old female resident of Pleebo District narrated that she visited a health center in the district, but wasn’t accorded medical care due to the strike by health workers.
She though it is also wrong for the government not to fulfill its commitment to health workers, it’s also important for health workers to prioritize saving lives of patients going to their facilities for medication.
However, when this paper contacted Mr. Garrison Sayon, administrator of the Pleebo Health Center, he declined to comment.
Meanwhile, speaking on a community radio station on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 via mobile phone, a representative of the National Health Workers Union of Liberia (NAHUL) alleged that government has failed to provide drugs and equipment to health facilities especially, referral hospitals.
Assistant Secretary-General Deemi T. Dearzrua, said Liberia’s poor health system has led to death of many citizens, because the government is yet to prioritize the health sector of the country.
He said they presented key concerns to the government, including granting the Union a certificate of recognition to operate as a trade union, better salaries, and hazard benefits, considering that COVID-19 has exposed them to more danger.
We have to initiate this strike action since the government has denied us the right to become a union on grounds that doing so will be going against the “Decent Work Act” which prohibits union for civil servants.
Deemi called on fellow health workers to continue the stay-home action until government can address their plights.
In a related development, Maryland County former senator John A. Ballout, who is seeking reelection, has regretted action by the government, threatening health workers with dismissal without finding solutions to their problems.
“We need them in the hospital, not in the street. We need to engage them and find a compromise instead of threatening them with dismissal,” Ballout said.
Atr the same time he cautioned health workers to understand the government is currently faced with lots of challenges, so they need to find a compromise with the authorities. He acknowledged that it is right of health workers’ to protest, but they should dialogue with government in having their demands met.
“This, too, will not happen overnight and they will not get everything they want and the government will not threaten them with dismissal because they cannot employ these people overnight. The mass dismissal is out of the question and it is wrong. Health workers have sacrificed a lot, so they have to be treated with respect. We have to work with them; we have to find a solution… Besides, I think if this organization is unionized, it will bring the best out of this country,” the former senator said.
By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland–Editing by Jonathan Browne