Amid Health Workers’ endless Strike Action, Dr. Jallah Blames It On ‘Sidelining’ By Previous Gov’t

Some of the nurses stood in the rain chanting slogans in demand of pay rise and better working condition. (Photo credit: Daily Observer)

As hundreds of health workers under the banner the National Health Workers of Association of Liberia (NAHWAL) continue their endless strike action, the Liberian Minister, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah has blamed the current plight being faced with by health workers on previous governments who she said was due to them being sidelined.

The Minister who cut short her trip with the Liberian leader at the United Nations, pleaded with the stricken health workers to reconsider their decision in continuation of their ongoing action, noting that their salaries will be paid in the shortest possible time, while the issue of their other demands will be looked into.

In another development, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Thursday, September 26, 2019 with authorities at the Ministry of Health, nurses at the country’s leading referral hospital, the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Medical Center in Monrovia, laid down their assigned nursing equipment in demand of pay raise.id

In the MoU, MoH committed itself to pay four years retroactive salaries the previously dismissed leadership of NAHWAL; payment of said retroactive salaries shall be done in two installments beginning October 31 to November 20, 2019.

While NAHWAL agreed to call off its go-slow action, which began on Monday, September 23, health facilities will reopen in 24-hour across the country.

While the document was being crafted, nurses at the JFK said their protest action came shortly after NAHWAL staged a nationwide go slow protest requesting for their three months delayed salaries, improvement in the shortage of essential drugs and electricity at the various health facilities across the country.

During their protest, some of the nurses stood in the rain singing songs: “The walls of salary must go up. We are tired, but today is the day to change our story; we’re tired; I am taking my salary by force,” etc.

“We cannot continue to work when our salaries have delayed for months in the midst of the poor working conditions,” the nurses said through their spokespersons.

They promised to continue protesting until the government can assure them of availability of essential drugs at health centers across the country, as well as pay them their delayed salaries and offer them pay rise.

It can be recalled on Monday, September 23, 2019, pregnant women and baby mothers placed roadblocks at the Du- port road junction in Paynesville near Monrovia, when they were reportedly denied treatments at some of the government-run hospitals.

All these developments were taking place while Liberian President George Weah, is in the United States attending the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), taking with him a large delegation, which includes some of the “non-essential staffs” but die-hard supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.

NAHWAL, MoH Sign MoU

In a related development, MoH and the leadership of NAHWAL said it is necessary that healthcare workers are prioritized during the “harmonization process, meaning that health care workers’ pay should not be affected by the process.”

Also in the MoU, the “harmonized salaries” of August 2019 will be used as the basis for correcting all errors associated with salary payments for July 2019, through which the July salaries will be processed, and credited to various individual accounts by mid-October this year.

Meanwhile, according to the MOU, “the MoH commits itself to distribute basic medical and laboratory supplies to all public health facilities across the country; that the government commits to release 1/12 of the Ministry’s budget (not known) to ensure uninterrupted provision of health services.

“The MoH hereby covenants and agrees never to take, prosecute or cause, permit, or advise to be commenced or institute any action against any of the health workers, including the leadership of NAHWAL.

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About Cholo Brooks 13364 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.