The Senior Management Team (SMT) of the Ministry of Health (MOH) has finally resolved to dismiss 27 health workers assigned in Lofa County if they refuse to return to work.
The Ministry said the workers have been absent from work for about 12 months despite several warnings to them from the Lofa County Health Team to return to work.
It may be recalled that since February 2014, there has been a series of go-slow actions by health workers assigned in Lofa County.
Among their demands was the resignation of then Minister of Health, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, for allegedly being insensitive to their grievances on deprivation of salary increments and other benefits.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, during a visit in the county, expressed government’s commitment to healthcare delivery and pledged to continue to provide services to the people of Lofa.
During their long absence from work, there have been reports that most of the 27 absentees are seeking employment with local and international non-governmental organizations.
The director of communications at the Health Ministry, Mr. Sorbor B. George, said the 27 disgruntled health workers have been categorized into four groups – those who are refusing to take up assignments in Lofa County; those who have abandoned work in the county without excuse; those who are refusing to return to work after being granted excuse; and those who recently earned Master’s Degrees on MOH scholarships and have refused to be assigned in Lofa County.
“Nine of the healthcare workers, including registered nurses, certified midwives and accountants who have abandoned their assignments, returned for the just ended National Health Workers’ census but left afterwards,” Mr. George said.
“Another 13 healthcare workers have also abandoned their posts while five others have refused to return to work after they were permitted to go on study leave.
“The Ministry is encouraging the delinquent healthcare workers to immediately report to the central office for reassignment if they are still interested in working (for the MOH).”
However, the Secretary General of the National Health Workers Association, Mr. George Williams, is appealing to the Ministry to consider having a “round table discussion” with the association to find out the cause of “the unprecedented number of delinquencies.”
Mr. Williams said such a situation raises concern and needs an investigation and a common ground.
“We are calling for a dialogue with the Ministry over the threat of dismissal of our members, and we are assuring the Ministry of the return or reassignment of these staff members,” Mr. George said.