The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH) was yesterday besieged by over a hundred volunteers demanding two months wages from the authorities of MOH and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The volunteers, many of whom are from Montserrado County district #5, were demanding wages for the months of November and December 2014.
Each volunteer is to receive US$80.00 a month. They volunteered their services during the heat of the Ebola crisis, engaging in contact tracing, community awareness and other Ebola prevention activities.
The aggrieved volunteers said that they risked their lives during the Ebola crisis only to come to this point to be ‘drilled and suffered’ by health authorities.
The volunteers were recruited by the government and its partners to specifically carryout contact tracing within their respective communities.
According to Mr. John Gray, the secretary of District #5 Anti Ebola Task Force, the contact tracers have been in the field every day, making sure that the country maintains reduction in cases and also eradicates the killer virus through activities they carried out in their communities.
He said a majority of the contact tracers have been abandoned by their family members due to Ebola fear. Mr. Gray said that for the sacrifices they are making for their country, the volunteers are not getting any benefit from officials of the MOH.
He asserted that Minister Tolbert Nyeswah and his team always report reduction in cases to the international community and this, said Mr. Gray, is achieved through the efforts of the contact tracers and others risking their lives in different occupational areas.
“Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah and his team should not satisfy the international community with reports of good work performed by us and at the same time suppress us by not paying our money. We have exercised patience and cannot continue it because school is about to open and we need money to go back to school,” said Mr. Gray.
Gray indicated that the action taken by the health volunteers is a message for the International community and citizens to be aware of maltreatment of workers by the Government of Liberia through the Health Ministry.
Amid the demonstration, UNDP intervened by promising to pay the volunteers their wages through the bank.
Those with accounts, according to UNDP, will receive their wages through the bank, while those without accounts will begin receiving theirs today up to the end of next week.
At the same time, Deputy Minister of Health for Administration, Mathew Flomo, apologized to the health volunteers, adding that their action was timely and promised to work with the UNDP in making sure that they get their two months salaries.
He urged the volunteers to stop the demonstration and work with the UNDP family that is responsible to pay health volunteers in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the UNDP recently paid US$1million to over one thousand Liberian Ebola health Workers as a contribution to the Liberian Government.
The US$1 million in cash payments was distributed across the country in January alone.
The workers were hired at the height of the crisis to help run Ebola treatment centers, help communities prevent transmission and fast track people that had contact with victims.