By Morrison O.G. Sayon
Health workers across the country are poised for another round of strike action for what they call being abandoned by the National Legislature and others who intervened to stop their recent strike action that paralyzed almost all health institutions in the country. In an exclusive interview yesterday, the President of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAL), Mr. Joseph S. Tamba, said despite the intervention by some prominent citizens including the National Legislature to cut off their February 17, 2014 strike action, nothing has been done to address their plight.
Mr. Tamba said those who played active part in resolving the situation that led to the cutting off of the strike have refused to address the main situations that have been affecting them, ‘Health Workers’ and that they have been forgotten by the Government of Liberia.
The recent strike was a devastating strike which the Liberian Government said was premised on intentional and purposeful deception and misrepresentation of prevailing facts and circumstances. As a result, according to the Liberian Government, almost all healthcare facilities felt the adverse impact the strike had on sick and helpless citizens including all health facilities in the leeward counties.
Following negotiations and dialogue between the health workers and other prominent citizens, the government resolved that no health worker will be asked to re-apply before going back to work after February 21 as was demanded in their February 17, memo that each County Health Officer prepares and send to the MOHSW and to the respective licensing Boards the names of health workers who did criminal acts and violated ethical codes for proper redress and that the MOHSW will work with, and strengthen the Professional Associations, Liberia Nurses & Midwifery Association, etc) to work with their members throughout the country, so they can have correct pieces of information from the central ministry at all times.
The government also resolved that the MOHSW will continue to work with the Professional Associations to advocate for the needs of all health workers and for resources needed to give proper care to patients who visit their healthcare facilities and teams made up of members of the Professional Associations and the MOHSW will visit and dialogue with health workers in all the counties and set up proper lines of communications.
But according to Mr. Tamba, since the decision was reached, he and the Secretary General of the Association have not been re-instated while many of the health workers’ concerns have been abandoned.
He said whenever they contact some members of the Senate, the Traditional Council of Liberia or the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), and others who form part of the negotiation team simply say they are also busy and have no time to talk to them.
According to Mr. George Poe Williams, Secretary General of the association, they will embark on another strike action that will be the biggest one ever since their plight cannot be addressed by government.