Liberia: Health Workers in River Gee Threaten ‘Big Protest’ in Demand of Salary Arrears

Dr. Troken T. Washington, River Gee County Health Officer

River Gee County – FrontPageAfrica has gathered from reliable sources that health workers in River Gee County are planning a ‘big protest’ in demand of their salary arrears owe them for the last six months.

Report by Augustine T. Tweh, [email protected]

According to sources within the county’s health sector, since June of this year, health practitioners working for the county medical centers have not been paid their salary arrears.

FrontPageAfrica also learned that prior to this planned demonstration, the workers had earlier staged a go-slow action that affected the smooth operation of the county’s operation for almost a week.

“Since some of us came to this hospital, we have been working and not getting anything. Only the hospital can feel sorry for us and give us small thing when the allotment comes for the hospital. Some people have been here for almost four years now, they are only on incentives,” a health worker at Fish Town Hospital told FrontPageAfrica on anonymity. 

According to Catherine (not her real name), since 2016, she has been surviving on handouts from the hospital, something she described as “unbearable” for any professional and family person.

“Since I came here 2016, I am not on salary neither incentives. I am surviving on the small money they can give me when the county hospital allotment comes. When the Minister came to address the issue, he said we must exercise patient. Since then, nothing has been done about our problem.”

Others have been working for seven and more years and they are not even on payroll and incentives. Imagine leaving your family in Monrovia and other places and coming here for nothing,” Catherine lamented.

She added that due to the bad working condition, workers at health facilities in the county are planning a massive protest to stay away from work until their demands are met by the county’s health authorities.

“Since the minister said we should wait in December everything will be fine, from now to the 15 or the 16 when nothing happens, when we host the meeting, we will try to write the other facilities’ workers for everyone to sit down,” she added.

“What really brought in the go-slow the other day was, people were paid by coupon but when the new government took over coupon closed. They said it has reached the stage for the new government to maintain its own workers because they have helped the government for more than 10 years now,” another worker said.

This health worker also asked for anonymity out of fear for being witch hunt. Jefferson (not his real name) told this newspaper that the county major health facility, Fish Town Hospital is in ruin.

Jeff disclosed that most times the hospital’s generator is off due to the lack of fuel and as a result of this surgical patient’s family often buy their own fuel so that surgery can be performed on their relative(s).

“They can explain to the patient’s caretaker that ‘we don’t have fuel’ but if they agree to buy the fuel, then sometime the people can put the patient on bike to come to the hospital for treatment,” he narrated.

Our source also added that three of the county’s five ambulances are currently down due to mechanical problems, making it difficult to respond to cases.

“This is the fifth months now that we have not been actively going for patients. When they call us for patient no fuel, so the only thing we can do is to go sign in and stay around and come home,” he added.

When contacted, the County Health Officer of River Gee County, Dr. Troken T. Washington, admitted that there are lots of health workers who are not on the pay roll in the county.

“We have a respectable number of them that benefited from the Pool Fund. Pool Fund was incentivizing these people. However, in May, the Pool Fund transitioned to GOL and the government is doing its best to absorb these people on the pay roll,” he said.

 Dr. Washington also added that the county health authority is working with the Ministry of Health to ensure that workers are placed on government.

“We have close to 130 health workers who are not on government pay roll. Those names are already being submitted to the personnel division of the Ministry of Health. The personnel division is doing its best to absorb them,” Dr. Washington disclosed.

The County Health Officer also acknowledged that the county’s medical facilities cannot respond to cases due to mobile constraints, attributing the situation to the delay of allotment.

period of six months. We are even blessed that two are functional, and those two continue to convey patients to and from the hospital,” he said.

He also attributed the damage of the county ambulances to bad roads condition, adding that health is a determinant of many factors.

However, he denied the allegation of patients buying fuel for the hospital’s generator before undergoing surgery.

For his part, the Superintendent of River Gee County, Philip Q. Nyenuh, also admitted that he is aware of the difficulties health practitioners in the county are undergoing.

“I am aware of the challenges our health workers are going through due to lot of intervening factors. But I am working with them as Chairman on the County’s Health Board to see how these problems can be mitigated,” Superintendent Nyenuh.