Press Statement :
The Liberia Medical and Dental Association (LMDA) wishes to inform the press and general public that it is deeply concerned about the recent standstill between the GOL and NAHWUL which has led to the go-slow action of health workers across the country.
LMDA has been committed to mediating this issue and has been cardinal in initiating negotiations for timely resolution.
In the midst of negotiations, LMDA strongly cautions all parties to refrain from making any inflammatory statement and advises against the government’s decision to replace health workers who have legitimate concerns. This decision is unacceptable by doctors across the country.
As leaders in the health system of Liberia, LMDA has always championed the improvement of the healthcare delivery system through constant advocacy and negotiation with GOL through MOH.
Some of these advocacies have yielded fruitful
results and we appreciate the government for such.
However, other advocacies are yet to be addressed by the government and we keep encouraging them to do so.
It is worth emphasizing that the medical field like others is one of team work, and that every member of the team from doctors to cleaners plays very peculiar and indispensable roles in healthcare delivery.
In the absence of one member, the entire team is distorted, resulting into adverse patients’ outcome. The practice of medicine calls for a team that is “fit for purpose and motivated” in order to perform at their best according to their code of professional ethics.
Given that other members of the team are absent due to the ongoing go-slow action, it is just the
matter of time before the entire healthcare delivery system crumbles and death toll among patients increases exponentially.
The medical team cannot also work effectively when basic materials are lacking and the environment is unsafe.
GOL should continue to endeavour in strengthening this fragile health system by providing all necessary support to build a resilient healthcare system.
Knowing that we as Liberians including government officials and ordinary citizens are the direct beneficiaries of the healthcare system we build, we must prioritize improving the healthcare delivery system even in the midst of harsh economic situations.
LMDA is calling on NAHWUL and GOL to continue the negotiations so as to avert the go-slow action and have health workers returned to duties immediately.
Relative to the demands enlisted in NAHWUL press statement, LMDA is proposing
the following actions:
1. Union Certificate: Considering the legal implications of this demand as indicated by GOL through the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Justice and Civil Service Agency, LMDA encourages the leadership of NAHWUL to seek legal recourse in this matter. We encourage them to suspend this demand as a prerequisite for health workers returning to work as legal proceedings take time to be resolved.
2. Reclassification of Health Workers According to Qualification and Payment of Salaries as per Professional Status: LMDA acknowledges that
disparity in salaries of similarly qualified employees results in demotivation in the
workplace. We encourage the GOL to reclassify the health workers and upgrade their salaries at the level of others with similar qualification.
3. Redeployment: LMDA hereby reminds NAHWUL that the authority to employ, assign, promote, transfer, or pension employees lies solely with the Ministry of Health using rules and regulations governing civil servants. However, LMDA
encourages MOH through the Human Resource to adhere to standard best practice, and publish policy documents regarding transfer of employees so as to alleviate fears of witch-hunt in the workplace.
4. Replacement of Pensioners: We encourage the GOL to replace pensioners promptly so as to maintain adequate workforce to cater to the increasing loads of patients at public health facilities. The pensioning of health workers without timely replacement creates gaps in the workforce which results in potential adverse patients’ outcome.
5. COVID-19 Victims Benefit: LMDA extends gratitude to the GOL and its partners for allocating some benefits to the families of health workers who lost their lives to COVID-19. We however encourage the GOL through MOH to establish a support mechanism in the form of medical and/or psychosocial support for survivors who may experience medical complications resulting from COVID-19.
6. Salary Increment: LMDA acknowledges that health workers in general receive
low salaries considering the huge risk and demanding nature of the work they do.
In as much as health workers commit to their duties not mainly because of the salaries they make, it is clear that their wellbeing and satisfaction is cardinal in providing quality and professional services to their patients. We therefore encourage the GOL to commit to a progressive salary increment of minimum
percentage each budget year until the target is achieved.
7. Hazard Benefits: LMDA welcomes the news of GOL allocating 2M US dollars to pay hazard benefits to health workers. We however encourage the government to explore other avenues such as tax waiver/break to health workers for specified
periods in the absence of cash payment since funding is limited. In the midst of these difficult times, LMDA again admonishes both parties to resort to continuous negotiations as all efforts are geared towards calling off the go-slow action and returning health workers to duties.
LMDA strongly frowns on any act to replace health workers who are on go-slow, as these actions will only
undermine all ongoing negotiations and create another set of misunderstanding.
LMDA remains committed to negotiating with both parties to seek amicable solution and reverse this go-slow action in the soonest possible time.
May God bless and protect us all as we together work to resolve this issue.
Signed: _______. Approved: __________
Dr. Moses Ziah, II Dr. Emmanuel K. Ekyinabah
Assistant Sec General. President