A 72-hour ultimatum, beginning today (Tuesday), has been extended to the government to pay doctors their two-month’s arrears, including the regularization of their salary payments, to avoid a planned strike action at the end of the request, which starts on Friday.
In a consensus meeting yesterday on 9th Street in Sinkor, doctors unanimously agreed to begin an all-out strike action from Thursday, Nov. 17, if the government fails to settle their arrears by Wednesday, Nov. 16.
The spokesperson of the ‘Concerned Medical Doctors,’ Dr. Jonathan M. Hart, said the ultimatum begins today (Tuesday) with a formal letter to the Ministry of Health, and copies distributed to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay and President Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah as well as the Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank.
“The letter contains lot of issues, including the ultimatum for our arrears, stakeholders meeting, and disparity in salaries, among others. If the government does not honor the ultimatum before Thursday, we will drop our tools, abandon work and wear our white lab coats and gather in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start the all-out strike action,” Dr. Hart said.
He added: “Those of our colleagues who are in the counties will join the strike by staying at their respective homes. We will also write a letter to the public, our patients, through the media to inform them of our decision of go on strike.”
Meanwhile, 46 doctors attended the “consensus and strategy meeting,” and voted to reach the decision to “strike” if the government refuses to pay their arrears, and dignify them as partners to build a “resilient health system.”
Additional reports gathered revealed that doctors would also protest against chronic shortages of basic medical supplies, dismal pay, and unsafe working conditions. Another report stated that nurses and support staff of hospitals and medical centers are expected to join the strike action.
The decision by the doctors is very distressing, according to interviews conducted across the city of Monrovia. Many Liberians told the Daily Observer that the doctors’ demand is shocking, especially at a time when Liberia recently received a lot of assistance in an attempt to build a resilient health system.
“This is the time for the legislators to act, along with President Sirleaf, to save the day,” a young woman said in an interview yesterday.