Pres. Sirleaf to Reinstate NHWAL Leaders?

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The two dismissed leaders of the National Health Workers’ Association of Liberia (NHWAL) are to be reinstated by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, according to the head of the Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC), Dr. John Mulbah.

Dr. Mulbah said he had appealed to the President to re-instate Joseph Tamba and George Poe Williams, president and secretary general, respectively, of NHWAL.

Responding to questions from talk-show hosts on the Truth Breakfast Show on Truth FM, Dr. Mulbah divulged that the President had assured him that she would honor his appeal after a new Minister of Health was appointed by her and confirmed by the Senate.

President Sirleaf a few weeks ago appointed Deputy Health Minister for Health Services, Dr. Bernice Dahn, Health Minister-designate pending confirmation.

One of the NHWAL leaders, Mr. Williams, speaking with the talk-show hosts, stated categorically that the leadership of NHWAL and the Health Minister-designate cannot work together amicably.

Williams further stated that Dr. Dahn, who has presided over the nation’s health sector for the last 10 years, has not been effective in the management of the country’s health system. To back his point, he cited the collapse of the health system when Ebola struck in March of 2014. He said millions of donor funding dollars had been pumped into the health sector prior to Ebola and national health stakeholders had boasted that gains had been made in the sector. Williams lamented that all those “gains” came crumbling down in a few months when Ebola struck.

He claimed among his many other charges that Dr. Dahn had masterminded the cut in health workers’ wages without the knowledge of the outgoing Minister of Health, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale. According to him, Dr. Gwenigale was not initially aware about what his subordinate had done.

Dr. Dahn’s office and the Ministry of Health have since said all those allegations are untrue.

But Dr. Gwenigale, whom Tamba seemed to have been praising, told a regular Ministry of Information press briefing that both men whom he had dismissed, would “never” return to work at the Ministry as long as he was Minister.

Dr. Gwenigale received many criticisms from the public for his stance against the health workers’ leadership.

The re-instatement of Tamba and Williams to their respective posts within the Ministry of Health is one of the contentious issues NHWAL continues to raise with the national leadership, including lawmakers, who have tried to intervene in the clash between the Ministry and NHWAL.

After listening to Dr. Mulbah make the disclosure about their re-instatement, Williams stated that it was not the first time that Dr. Mulbah had told them that the President would reappoint them to their posts and nothing had happened. Therefore he was not taking the pronouncement seriously.

However, this is the first time that Dr. Mulbah, who is the lead surgeon of the Liberia Fistula Project (LFP), has publically confirmed that the President would re-instate the two men.

“If she forgets, I will go back to her and remind her about it,” he insisted.

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