During the celebration of government’s third anniversary President Julius Maada Bio told the world that he wants Sierra Leone’s medical and health sector looks like that of the National Health Service in England.
The president means well for the country as stated in public media, but does he has actually the right professional equipped with the required human and working relations with health workers at the various geographical health areas across the country.
Judging from the performances and attitudes of the sector lead, line Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Austin Dembi, it does not appears as if such wishes and aspirations are near actualizations with landmark achievements in the health system.
That’s why the presidential dream of such nature is seen far from reaching, as somebody elsewhere or right under the feet of the presidency is deliberately failing to do his/her work, and are bent on undermining the his vision and determination towards continuing with the transformation of the health sector. As little health sector reforms are being visibly seen around.
Instances stem from recent behaviours of senior workers of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation that had to do with the physical humiliation of a worker at Connaugh Hospital during a cleaning exercise. A female doctor for that matter though her name is being withheld for now for personal reasons, was very much out of the way, even though the government later tendered apology for such actions, yet it was not good at all. And the Association of Juniors’ Doctors and Nurses of Sierra Leone have all rights to strike in firm solidarity with her vulnerable plight.
Also recent amongst such list of thousands of diverse forms of humiliations of health workers is the withholding of May salaries of over eighty-one doctors and nurses – by government and the line ministry.
It is unimaginable for a whole government to stifle the welfare of the workforce of the life line of the health sector of a country, under the political administrative leadership Dr Austin Dembi. That is unacceptable for they are humans equally with family responsibilities as you do. So settle their outstanding May salaries now before it is too late! There is no law in the books that protect you as minister to withhold salaries of health workers. Come on you back to your finance department and release the salaries of our beloved life savers.
The withholding junior doctors’ salaries is believed to be revenge by government emerging from recent strike and protest actions staged by the health workers for physical humiliation rained on one of their colleagues, at the country’s main referral hospital. Their strike action was in firm unanimity with the plight of one of their female colleagues, who was abused by a worker of the health ministry. Such abuser no matter his level should have been fired right from there for the abuse of a woman. But all these were stomached by Health Minister Dr Dembi.
Again, even delays of payments are unacceptable, considering the roles being played by these young doctors in saving lives, admits very difficult working environments, characterised by lack of adequate logistical and resources materials to work with, not to mention motivation on the job, they have decided to serve their home country with.
Dr Dembi himself, a no stranger in the field of medicines, should not in any attempt to withhold junior doctors’ salaries anymore in the continuing severe economic hardship.
Except if he wants to continue to undermine and sabotage the government’s health sector reform agenda. An agenda he promised to promote. The more reasons he was brought home by President Bio and appointed him Minister of Health and Sanitation, though little is being realized under his ministerial leadership.
All people continue to experience in the health care system are mistreatments of health workers, withholding of doctors and nurses salaries. Were these the much expected reforms from the Centre for Disease Control experts, now manning Sierra Leone’s health sector? We ask indeed with very legitimate concerns, bearing in mind that Dr Dembi is so clueless about the country’s healthcare system considering his long absence from the scene. That is why those who are well informed and are abreast with what it takes to run and fix thing in their right places in the health sector should not be disturbed at all by the leadership of Health Minister Dr Dembi. The Junior Doctors and nurses are key!
In circumstances where risks allowances are hard to come by to health workers, government through the line ministry should ensure that healthcare workers are treated fairly compared to next door in Guinea and Liberia, where medics are better conditions are offered to health workers.
So with such in unfavourable action place against the Association of Junior Doctors and Nurses, Dr Bembi must by all means possible ensure the immediate payments of salaries of junior doctors and nurses before the country experience another strike, for we don’t want to encounter another sickly nation. So fix Junior Doctors and Nurses the outstanding May salary issue now with your team and continue to enjoy some respite at work. Read on!