The magic that solved the health impasse
The almost two week long health impasse of striking workers has come to an end with efforts from the Minister of Labour Hon. Minkailu Mansaray (photo) and his Deputy Mojue Kakai practically taking the health worker to task in lieu of their responsibility to the country and the people of this nation.Â
Sequel to the presidential ultimatum for striking health workers (dated 26th March 2010), to return to their posts in the interest of the suffering masses, the Minister of Employment and Social Security Hon. Minkailu Mansaray in complement of the Presidentâ€™s effort and in the interest of public health has used various news media in the country to personally appeal to the striking government employees to avoid the mass dismissal promised by the president as a result of the illegal strike action posed by health worker in the country.
The magic moment came when the whole show could have turned into an embarrassing stalemate for the government and the people of the country but the swift move by the two Employment Ministers bagged in on a secret meeting held by the defying health workers and took them to task for probably crime against the people of this country; reminding them of their sworn responsibilities to the nation as medical practitioners as well as the need to ensure that the Presidentâ€™s agenda for change on health care is attained comes through.
Sierra Express Media has reliably learnt that it was then that the health workers agreed to the ultimatum offered by the president and retuned to their post this morning. Â Â
Talking to a cross section of the media, the Hon. Minister said the presidentâ€™s free health care package is a progressive one that is presently targeting a raise in the salaries of health workers and the provision of free health care service to pregnant and lactating mothers; a situation he noted is first of its kind in the country and is bound to grow as according to him the presidentâ€™s agenda for change on health care encompasses all areas of concern in the country health sector but at the same time advising that the striking workers be reasonable as to the implementation and achievement of the health care dream will not come in a day. Â
Hon. Mansaray commented on the slowly developing employment scale in the country and opined that the strike action of the health workers is not in anyway helping the situation in the country; adding that health care service delivery is a patriotic and humanitarian job and that the health workers must for very good reasons accept the 120% increment in their emolument; a situation he further noted has not been applied to any other sector in the country.Â Â Â Â
Sierra Leone as one of the poorest countries in the world has been blighted by the debilitating strike action by health workers that has led to a number of deaths in hospitals across the country; mostly in the western area of the country. The strike has been going on for over a week and on Friday March 26th, the countryâ€™s president, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma announced that any worker that fails to report for work next Monday ( March 29th) will face instant dismissal. He has also called on retired doctors, nurses and other health workers to report for work. Army and police personnel have also been deployed at major hospitals to maintain law and order.
The workers have already refused a 120% percent pay increase offered by the president himself last Thursday at a meeting that ended in a stalemate. Doctors in Sierra Leone are paid less than 200 dollars a month while nurses get below 100 dollars. The president says the workers are demanding approximately 130 billion Leones which is five times the current health sector wage bill; however, the government and donors can only come up with 50 billion Leones, which, according to the president, constitutes a doubling of salaries across the board for technical workers over and above the announced 20 percent wage increase already implemented for all public servants. The strike involves technical workers, doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and pharmacists.
President Koroma recently announced a free medical care program for women and children whose implementation will coincide with the countryâ€™s independence celebrations on April 27th but the health workers say such a program would have to go hand in hand with good conditions of service for all health workers.
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