Health

The Hypocrisy of GoL – Ten reasons why the ongoing on and off health workers’ strike in Liberia may not end anytime soon

By Martin K. N. Kollie

Youth Activist, martinkerkula1989@yahoo.com

Liberia under footballing President George M. Weah is engulfed in a multiplicity of crises. There have been outcries and protests from health workers, students, teachers, civil servants, security personnel, pensioners, pregnant women, zogos, ex-AFL soldiers, etc. The government appears frail in finding a concrete solution(s) to these emerging contradictions. The ongoing strike by health workers, in my opinion, is another National Health Emergency.

Sick patients victimized more as deplorable, ill-equipped and under-staffed Liberian public hospitals workers go on strike due to government’s failure to pay salaries of physicians and nurses while lawmakers earn US15,000 monthly; ruling party loyalists and head of agencies take away thousands of dollars as monthly salaries and benefits in addition to wasteful spending on unnecessary foreign travels.
Sick patients were taken from the hospitals due to poor medical conditions, health worker dissatisfaction and strike as well as the lack of drug and medical equipment.

The latest response or intervention of GOL through MICAT Press Statement appears more hypocritical and rhetorical. These are 10 reasons why I think this ongoing strike action by health workers may not end anytime soon:

  1. MICAT only released this statement to placate or appease health workers to abandon their ongoing strike. GOL did this to UL and TU lecturers a few months ago. So, it has lost public trust and confidence.
  2. This grammatically-flawed press statement from GOL through MICAT is hypocritical in context and content. GOL continues to leech on lies and deceit.
  3. They claim in this release that they are processing payments for July and August 2019. What about February, March, April, May, and June 2019? Because some health workers haven’t been paid since February, according to NAHWUL.
  4. September is already ending 6 days from now. Why is GOL not processing payments or cheques for September too? Are they waiting or prepared for another strike action?
  5. Besides the payment of salaries and allowances of health workers, health facilities are lacking medicines, medical tools, and logistics, including ambulances and fuel. This is one of the reasons for the ongoing strike. GOL did not address this situation in the press release. MOH authorities have consistently said that there is no money to procure medical supplies and run health facilities across Liberia.
  6. Furthermore, health workers are insisting that they remain completely exempted from any form of harmonization or pro-poor cut. The government seems not to be listening to this demand, as indicated in this press release. The cut is being maintained according to GOL.
  7. The health workers are also demanding increment in salaries and allowances in line with the harsh cost of living (inflation) in the Country. GOL, through MICAT, didn’t address this concern as well.
  8. The appeal by health workers for the Ministry of Education to extend the deadline for school registration to enable them to register their children when the government pays them has also been ignored.
  9. This press statement did not address the demand for GOL to pay the salaries and all benefits of NAHWUL’s President Joseph S. Tamba and Secretary-General George Poe Williams for the period both men were ‘wrongfully’ dismissed during the administration of EJS.
  10. A number of senior government officials and pro-Weah publicists have been mocking and provoking health workers for their ongoing strike action. In fact, some of them have opening said, “Is this the first time for health workers to protest. Let them continue. They are all opposition stooges and pay-agents”. Can you imagine?
Liberian government Press Statement on the on and off strike as Patients are thrown out of health facilities nationwide in Liberia.

To conclude, let me reiterate that the response or intervention from the government to remedy this ongoing strike action by health workers is not only WEAK but lacks honesty and authenticity. GOL gave First Lady Clar Weah US$1.5 million for “humanitarian outreach.” This whopping amount could pay 1,666 health workers for 6 months.

This national crisis appears far from ending. That’s why I am going to stand by and meet with the leadership of NAHWUL today. Health workers deserve far better. We must protect their welfare in order for them to save more lives.

About The Author:

Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth and student activist who currently studies Economics at the University of Liberia. He is an avowed proponent of social justice and a stalwart of SUP. Martin can be reached via martinkerkula1989@yahoo.com.

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