The Ultimatum to Medical Professionals
It was just a matter of time for certain sectors of Sierra Leone to tell the APC government that enough is enough.Â The medical profession has led the way and Sierra Leoneans should not be surprised to see other professionals following suit. The strike action by the medical profession though biting is legitimate particularly when the action is against a government known to have reneged on every promise it has made to the people of Sierra Leone. President Koromaâ€™s government has reneged on promises made to teachers, traders, school children, parents and even civil servants. As such it should not be a surprise that the medical personnel do not believe in the promises made by this government and President Koroma.
The ultimatum to fire medical personnel for no other reason than asking for better conditions of service is stupid and will be counter productive. Whoever advised the president to take such a decision has done great injustice to the country. You do not negotiate with ultimatums and any president worth his salt would realize that ultimatums are given in situations where the government has viable alternatives to the striking workers. The president unwisely gave an ultimatum and then appealed to retired medical professionals to step in. What the president is failing to realize is that most of the retired medical professionals either have their private practices or too old to get involved. In addition, the president is failing to realize that some of the retired medical personnel he is calling upon do not even receive their pensions on time and when they do it is but a pittance. So Mr. President, the very retired medical personnel you are appealing to have horrible retirement conditions.
It is cold hearted wickedness on the part of President Koroma to force the medical professionals to go back to work. One question a genuine leader would ask is whether he can survive on $90 a month or for State registered nurses 140,000 Leones an equivalent of $35 a month. Sierra Leoneans should be reminded that it was President Kabbah who in his wisdom increased the salaries of medical professionals. It was at a time though when the currency was about 2,000 Leones to the dollar; a bag of rice was a mere 60,000 Leones, transportation was about 500 Leones pole to pole. While it was not great, at least the cost of living was not as high as it is now and the money had value. Now the value of the money is hardly better than that of a toilet paper, inflation is running about 50% percent, the dollar now goes for 4,000 Leones, transportation is 1000 Leones pole to pole and a bag of rice is between 130,000 and 160,000 Leones up from 60,000 under the SLPP government.Â Now all these expenses do not include the cost of renting a house.Â This means the 100% increment promised is nonsensical to say the least. The medical professionals have legitimate concerns and Sierra Leoneans should stand by them and give them all the support they need. While the government plunders the nationâ€™s wealth to enrich themselves, they claim that they have no money to pay living wages for honest labor. These medical professionals are heroes and they are not thieves like those in the government. President Koroma should be ashamed of himself for trying to intimidate honest workers while his siblings are busy stealing the countryâ€™s resources
This is the same President who would run to India for treatment. His children are all living in London and they would never dream of using the medical facilities in Sierra Leone. If the president feels that all is well in the health system, he should subject himself and his family to the services. When I.B. Kargbo got ill he was flown out of the country. This should be a signal to all Sierra Leoneans that the APC government could care less about the health sector in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leoneans must be very concerned that they are being treated by medical professionals working under such terrible conditions. Who would expect a doctor to ignore a possibility of making in one day his three months salary in a private setting? That is why most of the doctors donâ€™t even show up for work because it is more lucrative for them to go private than work for the government.
The President fails to see all this glaring logic that even blind Bartimaeus of old would have seen. All he is concerned about is his bogus agenda for change. The president seems to believe that his agenda for change is meant for him and his friends and family to change from rags to riches and that the suffering masses should be stuck in abject poverty.Â All he has been doing is engaging in empty slogans and promises. One such empty promise is that of free health care. Hon Rado Yokie was right on the point when he said President Koromaâ€™s free medical care is the hoax of the millennium. Free health care is going to put undue pressure on under paid doctors and this will eventually lead to more deaths.Â In addition, the president has completely ignored the issue of access in reducing infant mortality. The reduction of infant mortality is more complex than declaring free treatment for infants. An infant accorded free treatment would die in the same hospital if the health professionals are working under terrible conditions; if there are no drugs to treat the patients and if the hospitals or health centers are too far from the people. The president seems to be oblivious of all these obvious stumbling blocks.
In closing, any President worth his salt would first of all look at the World Health Organization statistics about the availability of physicians in Sierra Leone before issuing a ridiculous ultimatum that will end up costing more lives. According to WHO figures Sierra Leone has a grand total of three physicians for every 100,000 patients. Now lets say the president goes along with his dumb ultimatum and sacks all the physicians who do not show up for work, then it means the people of Sierra Leone would be reduced to about 1 physician for every 250,000 people in the country. Does the president see the catastrophe he is creating in the country by refusing to see to the demands of the medical professionals? If I were president, I would agree to the demands on the basis of increases over few years but again I am an intelligent commentator and NOT KALILU BIG FOOL.
Ernest B. Malamango
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