Several health workers across Liberia have sounded a caveat to the National Legislature not to have Dr. Bernice Dahn confirmed as per the President’s request to serve as Minister of Health in the country because by doing so will not be in the best interest of the health workers. During one of their routine quarterly meetings held recently in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, the leadership of the workers’ Association through its Secretary General, George Poe Williams said Dr. Dahn will not be a good steward at this time.
Mr. Poe Williams along with the Association’s president, Tamba, whose position on the Association is dangling in a balance between the officials of the Ministry of Health and members of the Legislature for which a vote of no confidence was cast against the former, said Dr. Dahn has served as Chief Medical Officer for ten years and it was during her service that the health system crumbled.
He said it was due to their mismanagement of their service that made the Legislature to cast a vote of no confidence against them and that should signal to government that it must desist from recycling failed appointees or nominees.
Mr. Williams said already the Association has engaged government through three action points and that included writing a formal letter informing the National Legislature why Dr. Dahn must not be confirmed; media publicity was made and members of the Association assembled at the Legislature to petition the lawmakers not to have her confirmed and it is the end result that is being awaited.
The Association said four names were forwarded to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and now that George Werner has been withdrawn, and Dr. Dahn if confirmed would be the worst, it is only convenient that the President look at the remaining names to renominate so that the health system can be rekindled and that health workers’ condition can improve.
Meanwhile, the quarterly meeting held in that part of the county is to discuss the welfare of health workers as well as the health care status in the country to include the condition of patients. Mr. Williams said as far as the Association is concerned, the health workers have not dismissed any member of its leadership.
He said a year ago, the hierarchy of the Ministry of Health was mandated to reinstate them but they refused to do so because the Association is a trade union and guided by the ILO right which it operates without the approval of government.
Mr. Williams accused the government of playing divide and rule game as it relates to their status but with the confidence imposed in their ability to lead, the health workers instructed them to hold meetings every three months and that is evidenced by their turnout.
He understands the conflict between the health workers and the health authorities to mean that employers do not want to dialogue with employees and it is an old aged problem not because of him or Tamba as they are being fully supported by health workers.
However, it was observed that some top health officials including members of the county health teams who are also members of the Association were not at the quarterly assembly apparently due to fear of being dismissed. Writes Lincoln Barcon, from Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.