The Acting Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Deputy Minister for Administration, Mr. Matthew T. K. Flomo, has been cited to face the Senate plenary today, Tuesday, June 3, to answer queries over his Ministry’s failure to reinstate two dismissed leaders of the National Health Workers’ Association of Liberia (NHWAL), as mandated by that august body.
The Senate plenary last Tuesday cited Health Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale following verbal information from Lofa County Senator George Tengbeh that up to the time of the Senate’s 33rd day sitting, the Health Minister had not reinstated NHWAL president Joseph Tamba and his Secretary General George Williams.
Senator Tengbeh informed the plenary that there was again rumor of health workers going on strike. “So I want to bring this to the attention of the plenary so we can take action sooner so that it will not be too late for us.”
In the debate that followed, it was disclosed that during a six-hour meeting chaired by Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Dr. Gwenigale promised and assured those in attendance that none of the health workers were going to be dismissed.
The meeting at JFK was prompted by a nation-wide go slow by health workers who were demanding better incentives and reinstatement of some members of NHWAL, including its leadership who were dismissed by Minister Gwenigale.
In reaction to the news last week, the Senate Chairman on Gender, Health & Social Welfare, Women and Children Affairs, Dr. Peter Sonpon Coleman recalled the crucial role the Senate played for health workers to go back to work, and reflected how the recent go slow paralyzed the health system in the country.
“As we sit, there is a threat that if the two people are not reinstated, they will go back to a go-slow. Most of the grievances outlined by them have not been addressed,” Dr. Coleman noted.
It was at this juncture that the Liberian Senate last Tuesday voted unanimously to cite Minister Gwenigale to appear before that body on Thursday, May 29, 2014, to show why he should not be held in contempt for refusing to reinstate the two sacked officials of NHWAL.
But at its 34th day sitting last Thursday, the Senate received a communication from the Ministry of Health, expressing the Minister’s inability to appear, due to his absent from the country up to July.
The Senate then decided that Deputy Minister for Administration Matthew Flomo, acting as Minister, appears today.