In an effort to rebuild Liberia’s poor health sector, the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAL), has warned the Government of Liberia to prioritize the sector by increasing its budgetary allotment or risk further disaster.
The Secretary General of the Health Workers Association, George Poe Williams, said the current national resilient health sector plan is being undermined by the consistent lack of sufficient medical drugs; low salaries for health care workers and the unavailability of standardize technologies like CT scan at major hospitals in the country. According to him, the only government owned CT scan machine at the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital (JFDMC) in Tappita, Nimba County has been down for almost two years without any redress. Williams intoned that currently, there is an acute shortage of essential drugs and other medical and laboratory supplies at all government health facilities which have resulted in patients and their relatives given prescriptions to purchase drug over the counter. He mentioned that the national health workers association strongly believes that a nation cannot build a resilient health sector with all these lapses. “Therefore, we call on all stakeholders to take this matter seriously and advocate for increase in budgetary allotment for health and better motivational packages for health care workers as health is a basic human right issue,” Mr. Williams pointed out. “The resilient health sector plan is been undermined by the actions of the government and NAHWAL. Let us not wait until another disaster before we start to look out for solutions”, he indicated. There is a need, he said, for the people’s representatives at the National Legislature, the Council of Churches, the Muslim Council, the Traditional Council, Civil Society Council, and the Political Class- including the ruling and opposition blocs, as well as all partners in the health sector, both local and international, to prevail on the government to prioritize the resilient health sector plan. “The Ministry of Health (MOH) must make sure that there is a constant availability of medical and logistics supplies at its facilities across the nation at all times. This way, we can build an improved Health Care and a sustainable Resilient Health Sector”, he added. At the same time, Williams accused authorities at the Ministry of Health for the massive reduction in the salaries and benefits of low level health workers, an accusation the MOH has categorically denied. He explained that the deductions started gradually from around February 2016 with a few low level healthcare workers, but later graduated to all levels of health workers by July. “They started with deduction of 50% of incentives in May 2016 and progressed to 70% of incentives in June 2016, leaving low level health workers with between seven ($7.00) to nine ($9.00) United States dollars as monthly incentives. He complained that health care workers have experienced yet another shocking reduction in July 2016, this time on their salaries. Some middle level health workers had between three thousand and four thousand plus Liberian Dollars deducted from their salaries. In response to the workers claims, the Communications Consultant of the Health Ministry, Sorbor George, said authorities at the Ministry take no interest in reducing or deducting health workers’ salaries, adding “we know healthcare workers are supposed to receive their just salaries and benefits, nothing more, nothing less”.