-Health workers claim, but gov’t orders payment for July and August
The Government of Liberian (GoL) through the ministries of Health, Finance and Development Planning on Monday, September 23, 2019, failed to address two major concerns raised by the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAL) about the shortage of drugs and electricity at health facilities, but promised to do all payment for July and August.
Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah, at an emergency press conference held at the Ministry of Information, said the salary payments for both July and August 2019 have been processed and checks transferred to various commercial banks for direct deposit into each of the health workers’ accounts.
Minister Tweah’s short statement explained that the government has made the necessary adjustment and correction in the personnel listing of the Ministry of Health to reflect the proper position and pay grades for health workers under the ongoing salary harmonization process.
“The government wishes to advise,” he said “and encourage all health workers to return to work as it remains engaged with the leadership of health workers’ association.”
Minister Tweah: “The GoL wishes to assure the general public that it remains committed to doing all within its power to ensure the regularization of payment to civil servants expeditiously.”
Pregnant women, early women and baby mothers early Monday morning staged a protest at the DuPort Road Health Center to claim the government’s attention to address the plight of the health workers.
Some of the patients, who went to seek medical attention, but could not due to the refusal of health works refused to perform their duty for the government’s inability to settle their salaries area set up roadblocks on the back road connecting Duport Road to the commercial hub of Redlight, and others majors communities, disrupted the free flow of traffic for several hours.
Sarah Y. Yamah, 65, said “I came for treatment this (yesterday) morning, and was informed by the doctors that they are not working because the government has refused to pay them.
Yamah said the treatment she took home for last month finished over the weekend so she needed a new prescription from them but could not because of the ongoing strike by the health workers for the salaries.
She adds, “As a pressure patient that has to take my treatment without losing a day, and the prescription from a doctor. but I do not have money to go to private clinics so the only thing I can do is blocked the road.”
Brandy Jakite, 32, a nine months pregnant woman, said the nurses refused to treat them because the government failed to pay them for three months.
Jakite said blocking the road will claim government’s attention to understand the importance of health workers.
“If you don’t pay the nurses, how do you think we will get treatment? I am nine months pregnant and if things continue like this, I will be like some of my friends, who were in slow pain and was rushed to a private hospital for treatment,” she said.
Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis, Montserrado County District #4, who visited the center, and held a brief discussion with staff of the facility, was informed that the hospital is only open for emergency cases.
Some of the nurses informed the lawmaker that they make less than US$250; “and that money has not been coming regularly.”
Rep. Dennis said that House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, has been notified of the situation, and that the leadership of the Legislature will engage the Executive to address the situation.
When quizzed whether the solution includes paying the health workers their arrears and salary, she retorted: “I, myself have not taken pay for three months.”