There are too many good people and institutions involved in Liberia’s triumphant (victorious) anti-Ebola crusade to end up with bitter complaints over pay from those who bore the brunt of the struggle—the ETU workers.
You have President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf herself, who led the vigorous, yea victorious charge. You had Dr. Walter Gwenigale and his right hand woman and successor at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Bernice Dahn. You had all the stalwarts at the Incident Management System (IMS), including Assistant Minister Tolbert Nyenswah and Dorbor Jallah and their co-workers. There were also all the local and international partners that gallantly joined in the fight, leading us to the finish—the United Nations Agencies, most especially the UN Medical Emergeny Ebola Response (UNMEER); our American, Chinese and European partners, who poured in money, equipment, supplies and even troops; Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), Samaritan's Purse; and all the individuals and institutions that contributed one way or another. Then, as President Sirleaf has repeatedly acknowledged, both here and abroad, there were the Liberians themselves who, having finally embraced and obeyed all the measures put into place, stopped the virus in its tracts. Soon, as a result, people were no longer dropping dead and the epi-centers of the virus became totally free from it. Today, most of the country, with the exception of Monrovia, are long past the 42 days stipulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be declared Ebola-free. Monrovia has few more days to go before we and the world can, at long last, hear this grand announcement that Liberia, once the hardest hit country in the Mano River basin, is at last Ebola-free!
But who, in all this, can forget the people on the ground who dangerously but courageously bore the brunt of the struggle—the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) workers? You are talking about the doctors, nurses and paramedics, many of whom paid the supreme sacrifice. You are talking also about the ambulance and other vehicle drivers, many of whom had to attend, with their bare hands, the bleeding and vomiting victims. Some of these drivers, too, died in the process. Remember the driver who brought Deputy Health Minister Yah Zolia from Ganta and died the next day? He was one of those who paid the sacrifice.
Who, therefore, can afford to forget these ETU workers? Nobody, we hope! So why do they have to engage in a protest to get their just, sacrificially-earned wages? You mean we are so ungrateful, so hardhearted, as to forget so soon the people who risked their lives to set us free from Ebola?
The Deputy Information Minister, Robert Kpadeh, during a press briefing last Friday, expressed “surprise” that the ETU workers were owed arrears. And former Health Minister Walter Gwenigale himself said he knew nothing about this. So who should know?
This newspaper will not be so mindless as to call on the President to intervene in this, too. Heaven knows that the woman cannot do everything. Otherwise, why does she have so many lieutenants to execute and implement the policies she and her government have put into place?
We think the ETU workers should have been the last bunch of healthcare—or any other workers—to forget. Yet indeed NONE of them, our healthcare workers who labored dangerously in this most horrendous health hazard in our history, should have been forgotten. GOL should have rather made sure that they were the first to be paid before Easter.
Would it be prudent to appeal to the ETU workers to return to duty because we are sure that GOL will, before the end of this week, pay them in full?
We surely hope so. We therefore urge them to return to work and we are positive that GOL will meet its side of the bargain, by paying them.