Healthcare Regulator Rejects Gov’t Mandate Against Striking Health Workers

9
1642
Dr. Linda Birch, Chairperson, LMDC

As health workers remain adamant in their go-slow action in demand for settlements of some pressing needs including better salaries and hazard benefits, President George Manneh Weah has instructed the Ministry of Health to begin soliciting applications from qualified health workers of various grades, including nurses, nurse aides, midwives, and laboratory technicians amongst others in order to fill the “Temporary” vacancies that have resulted from the strike action.

A release from the Executive Mansion over the weekend mandated: “These applications must be submitted immediately to county health centers, the Ministry of Health, and the JFK, for screening by the MOH.” 

In a telephone interview with the Daily Observer over the Weekend, Deemi T. Dearzrua, Secretary General of the National Health Workers Union of Liberia (NAHWUL), described the President’s mandate as a joke, intended to exacerbate the situation. According to him, the government’s action is not in the true spirit of dialogue and reconciliation.

However, in what could perhaps be considered a more solutions-oriented response to the mandate from the President, the Liberia Medical and Dental Council of Liberia (LMDC) sternly objected to the mandate and described it as “unfair and unjust” to the health workers.

The LMDC is an autonomous body established by an Act in March 2010, with exclusive power and authority to regulate medical practice within the Republic of Liberia. The LMDC is an independent body that collaborates with the Ministry of Health in implementing the National Health Policy.

LMDC recalls that health workers are at the frontline of disaster and pandemic in the country and some have remained there and died, citing the Ebola and COVID-19 as most recent cases that have claimed the lives of many health workers.

“The LMDC calls on the government to seriously attend to the requests of the health workers and not ignore the same as this could adversely affect the entire health care delivery system of the country,” the organization through its President, Dr. Linda Birch, said.  

“The LMDC is taken aback by this decision when frantic efforts are being made through dialogue to persuade health workers to return to work while trying to find a solution to the impasse. The LMDC sees this action on the part of the Government of Liberia “to recruit qualified health workers of different grades to fill the void in the interim “as a threat to unnecessarily undermine its efforts to ensure that Liberians have access to quality healthcare services irrespective of race, tribe, religious and political affiliation,” said the release.

The LMDC raised the red flag that it opposes this decision to replace striking health workers with others because those to replace the striking workers may end up being treated the same way.  The health regulating body then called on the government to withdraw the statement which it says is “Tantamount to a threat to the entire health workforce of Liberia including doctors and other health related providers.

“Opting for recruitment will further threaten LMDC/LMDA efforts to save lives that may be unnecessarily lost due to the protracted strike action and must be discouraged,” the statement added.

According to the LMDC authority, the statement to the Health Ministry comes at a point when it has begun extensively engaging the leadership of the health workers and the professional bodies and boards to a roundtable meeting to continue the dialogue while providing essential health services to the people and residents of Liberia.

LMDC sees this action by the MOH to be chaotic and immature, taking into account the length of time in training of health workers required to be different from other occupations,” the LMDC statement noted.

 Meanwhile, the LMDC is equally calling on the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Health, to address some of the counts raised by the health workers, especially those that are considered ‘low hanging fruits.

Suggesting a way forward to finding a remedy to the tussle between the government and health workers, the release quotes the health regulatory body, saying:  “The LMDC wishes to suggest that: a six-month tax waiver be granted on the salaries of all healthcare workers; prioritize frontline workers for hazard payments (those in administration can be considered later); MOH announce the commencement of payments and benefits to victims and families of COVID 19 health workers that died as soon as possible; GOL temporarily halt the retirement of healthcare workers for now; NAHWUL and MOH to seek independent legal advice about the existence and functions of NAHWUL; set up committee to look into the issue of salary adjustment  and; set up other committees to address other issues raised by the healthcare workers.”

According to the release, the LMDC said it wishes to express its commitment to the healthcare profession and the wellbeing of healthcare providers and, most importantly, the wellbeing of patients. The LMDC strongly believes in a win-win situation and encourages all parties to continue with the dialogue in amicably resolving this grave matter.

“The LMDC equally rejects the idea of “putting off fire with fire”. Two wrongs can never make things right. The LMDC has always stood up for the best quality care for the people of Liberia and will never waiver to continue in such direction by putting the safety and lives of our citizens and residents within Liberia first. In fact, that is the reason why a skeleton staff is always provided for emergency care at the various health centers to save lives and not disrupt the emergency care provided for the patients,” it concludes.

Simeon Wiakanty contributed to this story.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Now this Doctor of LMDC came from the United States of America with solutions and qualified experiences. She brought those solutions and experiences with her in order to do for her country and people. She came with a plan and solution. As compared to the Minister of Health also came from America, but is of the opinion that when she came to the US, whatever she studied and learned here in the US, and what experienced was gained here in the US, and what training that was received here in the US , when returning to the old country, Liberia, let those knowledge remained here in the US. The Health Minister came from America, and apart from her job seeking degree that she brought with her to the Republic of Liberia, the knowledge of her education and experienced , that she left in the US. The Health Minister represents the kind of job seekers coming from America to Liberia just to tow political policies. That is who they are. These are the kind of people that are responsible for destroying the country. They are not way maker and they are not policymakers. They are just destroying the country. That is who they are. To tow political policies anywhere and anyhow, and nothing else. That is who they are. No independent thoughts. That is who they are.

  2. Tell them that when their strike’s over, they don’t have any job. Fire all of them now, and hire back those who want to work..These people are essential public employees who serve the public, not their union bosses.

  3. Come on guys! Dialogue is the only solution to the ongoing strike action. It is regrettable but GOL needs to find solution. To hire new healthcare workers with no experience to fill in gap, i think is like putting fire off with gas which is not possible. What will happen if you employ these people n didn’t pay them on time, n they also go on strike, will u replace them again? Sad time in Liberia. Other countries health workers did go on strike n some of their demands were met. Like Ghana, Government waived tax on healthcare workers salary but in Lib is the other way around. All can’t b solve one day, but solve the you can solve Mr. president. To be healthcare worker is not a crime they are making lot of sacrifices for us. Some lost their lives. Do something they are children.

    • Unfortunately, many of the people you speak of followed George Weah home to acquire their positions. Your sentiments are exactly why many Liberian professionals in the diaspora are unwilling to Be subjected to the insults. The truly sincere return to build, invest and train. So far we have seen no major improvements from those you praise.

      • “Your sentiments are exactly why many Liberian professionals in the diaspora are unwilling to Be subjected to insults”. While your assertions are your personal opinions, you are wrong. Returning from the diaspora is no reason why many of them must be policies towers without independent thoughts when the policies are wrong. That shouldn’t be the only reason for them coming to that country just to tow policies. They are professionals as you rightfully said, don’t they know how to present presentations, don’t they know how to layout arguments to be heard for the common good? Or do they just sit in cabinet meetings and stirred up at the ceiling ? If the nation needs people to just tow government policies without the thoughts of any professional policymakers’ input, the nation there are many many many local citizens that can do just that. No needs to send for professional diaspora Liberians to just tow the policies lines. And local citizens can do just that, and for less to the government. The diaspora Liberians need to stop be political policies towers. They shouldn’t leave their educational knowledge back in America and only returned with degrees to tow policies. They are the people ruining this country. George says let fired every healthcare workers. And they all from the diaspora says, let fired them. Where is the solution based on their independent professional knowledge ? The short cut by the professionals to any solution let fired them or called in the police . A common practiced by the University of Liberia and its administrators. Called the police. Send in the police.

  4. something wrong has crept into our health system governance that is to believe that one must be a medical doctor in order to be a health minister. Worse of all health ministers who are medical doctors are allowed to run their private medical centers, a good recipe for conflict of interest and malpractice

  5. The government hospital in my hometown, Buchanan was totally empty. The Emergency Rooms were left unattended. Patients were left to fend for themselves. Where are their ethics. I mean, not one Medical staff in sight when the media made the rounds. The healthcare workers were more political than objective. What happens to the Hippocratic oath? In the developed world, these strikes are symbolic and last a day or two. In addition, all healthcare workers don’t go on strike simultaneously! While they are out until their demands are met, we cannot afford the daily deaths of fellow Liberians.

  6. Mr. Gayman,

    You called this political? No brother! This is about the welfare of a people. The medical team of the country should be treated with the utmost consideration and respect.
    How many people can afford to travel to Ghana or the Ivory Coast for treatment? They (government rogues) can easily fly to these countries or the USA for treatment, but not the common people.

    Pay health workers their meagre salaries, pay for any bonuses correctly and on time. Threating them of replacement is what we called “foutaise” or hogwash.
    They have money to demolish and rebuild their houses into mansions, take loan to buy food for their lazy partisans at the detriment of taxpayers but can’t pay health workers?
    We are waiting for Weah and thugs to replace our health workers with unskilled people!

Leave a Reply