Amidst the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus which has claimed the lives of over 3,500 persons, the House of Representatives is considering passage of a Law, known as the “Health Workers, Infants and Epidemic Survivors Protection Bill” for the benefit of the families of dead health workers, the survivors of Ebola as well as orphans whose parents died from the epidemic.
Members of the House of Representatives, in their 13th day sitting of the extraordinary session on Tuesday, unanimously agreed and forwarded the Bill to the Committees on Health and Social Welfare, Judiciary; Ways, Means and Finance and Labor to scrutinize the Bill and report to them (Plenary – the body of the entire membership).
The Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives, Madam Mildred Sayon, said the joint committee is expected to report to Plenary according to the accepted-and-carried motion on Tuesday, the 4th of November 2014.
Montserrado County # 10 Representative Julius F. Berrian said the consideration and timely enactment of the Bill would halt the violent demonstration of health workers in a quest for increment in salaries, incentives and insurance benefits. The de-stigmatization of Ebola survivors will be one of the achievements of the bill.
The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Lawmaker, drafter of the Bill, further said a person who shall stigmatized survivors of Ebola shall be considered criminal and shall be given a two-year jail term.
The Montserrado County Representative wrote: “In respect to national emergency, whereby health workers may die during the called duty, this act is purposed to ensure that the benefit, security and protection of said person be inherited by his/her family,” the proposed law said.
He also stated: “Knowing the danger posed to health workers and the vulnerability of children (infants) whose parents have died from communicable/contiguous infections diseases in Liberia, national government shall ensure that health workers and their beneficiaries get insurance with a private and credible insurance company, which will be responsible to pay their benefits accurately and national government shall give reasonable compensation to epidemic survivors.”
Meanwhile, others lawmakers, who begged not to be named, have declared support for the passage of the bill, but said survivors of Ebola are the same as the children (Infants) so the aspect of the children should be eliminated from the draft bill.
The lawmakers argued that even though the law shall take effect immediately upon publication in handbills, the law should include the benefits of those who died as of March 2014.
This could the first law, if it is passed by the National Legislature and endorsed by the President, to address the benefits of the dead health workers and the survivors of a disease since the founding of Liberia in 1847.