The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is working with the authorities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to coordinate payments for thousands of treatment centre staff, lab technicians, contacts tracers and burial teams who are at tremendous risk in combatting the deadly Ebola virus.
According to UNDP Administrator, Mrs. Helen Clark, paying the health workers’ salaries in a timely manner is crucial and will motivate them to go about saving more lives.
“Paying them on time helps to sustain them and their families, and it ensures a steady inflow of personnel who can help stop this disease outbreak,” she said.
Mrs. Clark also stated that, “Success in the response, down to the district level, depends on these women and men who are risking their lives every day to fight the disease.”
In Liberia, the Government, in collaboration with UNDP and the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), conducted a one-day brainstorming session on the Ebola response processes relative to salary payments to health workers.
UNDP Coordinator for Salary Payments for Ebola Response Workers (ERW), Stuart Kefford, said the initiative is to ensure that all Ebola response workers are paid on time.
During the training held in Monrovia, Mr. Kefford said efforts are in response to the United Nations Secretary General's request for UNDP to closely work with governments in the affected countries to identify ERWs and seek better payment modalities.
The UNDP Coordinator said the Liberian Government has already established harmonized rates of payment identified by profession and put in place whereby individuals are paid basic salaries, allowances and hazard benefits.
He stated that the meeting was necessary to further explain various payment processes that have been put into place by the government and discuss other modalities that will make the process effective and efficient.
Recognizing the commitment of the respective national authorities leading this response, UNDP, working with the UNMEER, is tracking payments and improving existing systems through which payments are being delivered to the Ebola response workers.
The objective is not only to support governments which handle payrolls and partners to continue paying the workers’ salaries and incentives on time, but also to strengthen and develop systems that will expand access to affordable financial services after this medical emergency is over.
Mrs. Clark also stated that reinforcing existing services can help expand the creation of markets, improve poverty reduction and resilience, boost economic growth and recovery, develop livelihoods of people with low incomes and empower women over time.
Beyond the immediate response, she said, UNDP will also make welfare payments to vulnerable communities affected by the disease, focusing on survivors and families who lost relatives or are helping orphaned children, as well as groups who lost their livelihoods as a result of the crisis.
The socio-economic impact of the Ebola medical emergency will be felt long after the crisis has ended. It is already affecting the means of making a living of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in these countries, as well as the ability of governments to provide basic services to their populations.
As part of the broader UN family, UNDP is working to identify and trace people with Ebola; assisting with social mobilization and community engagement; strengthening security agency capacity to prevent further spread of the disease; assessing the socio-economic impact of the outbreak and working with governments on recovery plans.