President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appealed to doctors who are threatening a strike action for their two-month arrears to show patience and patriotism by continuing their service to humanity.
According to a dispatch from Marrakech, Morocco, President Sirleaf in a special but passionate message observed that in 2006, at the start of her administration, the salary and benefits of doctors was US$70 or its equivalent in local currency, with several delays in monthly payments.
President Sirleaf said although working conditions for doctors leaves so much to be desired, today, the salary and benefits average US$4,000 for doctors and US$1,500 for government sponsored interns, with on time monthly payments and improved working conditions.
She said recent delays in payments reflect the need to make changes in the currency of payment, reflecting the serious financial situation in the country.
President Sirleaf said nevertheless, Cabinet discussions have centered on the need to improve the salaries and benefits of doctors, particularly those who are specialists, in order to provide better incentive for their valuable service.
She then thanked Senator Coleman, Ministers and officials who are having ongoing consultations with the doctors.
Meanwhile, the President has asked the doctors to meet with her upon return to the country.
Liberian Doctors Tuesday gave the government 72-hour ultimatum, to resettle their two months arrears, that ends today, threatening to embark on nationwide strike action. Their demands also include the regularization of their salary payments.
In a consensus meeting Tuesday on 9th Street in Sinkor, the 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 began on 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. With President Sirleaf’s appeal to the doctors to rescind their decision and work for humanity until she returns from a climate change conference in Morocco to resolve the matter, a source from the aggrieved doctors could not readily respond to question about their next course of action.