HOW SINCERE ARE OUR HEALTH WORKERS?
Following an ultimatum by the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) and other allied health professional associations to down tools for the recent reduction of monthly take-home salary and the weekly 45 litres of fuel, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has made tremendous efforts to not only pacify the irate health workers but to also ensure that the issues they raised are addressed.
Though the GoSL has through the Ministry of Finance responded realistically to the issues raised by health workers through the approval of the reinstatement of COVID-19 allowances and the weekly fuel allocation of 45 litres to eligible health workers, SLMDA is still adamant about accepting Government’s offers.
According to SLMDA’s disclaimer, “However, the SLMDA Executives and the executive of other allied health professionals (nurses and pharmacists) were summoned to an emergency meeting on the 28/07/22 by the Honourable Minister of Health and Sanitation. In this meeting, a document from the Ministry of Finance (signed by the Financial Secretary) was presented to the various representatives of the different associations.” It furthered that the correspondent presented via Ministry of Finance did not adequately address their concerns as stated in their previous press release.
They advanced that there are several lacunae/gaps with ambiguities for so many unanswered questions and concerns which they are pondering about going forward. Though the health workers have the right to demand for what they believe they truly deserve, their ultimatum for Government to meet their demands in twenty-one days came at a time when the country, like many other developing and advanced countries in the world, is going through some dire economic consequences caused by the external shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war on Ukraine. While the Government has agreed to reinstate the COVID-19 allowances in the form of salaries starting September this year, as well as agreeing to give eligible health workers the 45 litres of fuel per week by chits and not in the form of salaries due to proper accountability. The health workers are now demanding money instead of the fuel chits. This is where lies the political undertone in the skewed attempt by the health workers, notably the SLMDA members, in rendering the Government impotent in controlling the health sector. Why would these doctors ask for money instead of the fuel chits when all eligible civil servants entitled to fuel chits had never done such a thing?
It seems that these monetized doctors who are very insensitive to the economic challenges Government is grappling with are intent on undermining the gains made by the Government and its development partners in the health sector because of political reasons. Such ugly development comes at a time when Government has commenced the mobile clinic operations across the country to treat vulnerable communities.
Prior to SLMDA’s ultimatum to Government, the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) had also asked for salary increment and threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if their concerns were not looked into by the Government. The Government also did what it can to settle their impasse with the union. With such ugly development happening at this time of dire economic condition, who knows when another union or association will suddenly come up with its own demand for Government to address?
If the 45 litres of fuel per week which the SLMDA demanded from Government has been approved, why should they ask for money instead of what they had originally asked for? This is complete insincerity that is only typical of unpatriotic, monetized Sierra Leoneans who only care about lining their pockets rather than serving humanity and their country. But the day of reckoning will come.