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Liberia: Striking Nurses Barricade Biggest Referral Hospital

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Monrovia-Striking nurses on Thursday barricaded major entrances of the JFK Medical Center in Monrovia, denying volunteer’s nurses from entering the compound.

The nurses who abandoned the health delivery services at the hospital on Wednesday night, staged the blockage early 6:00am against what they term as move by the hospital management to replace them with “Unlicensed and unprofessional students.”

‘Instead of appealing to us to go back to work, following our participation in the nationwide strike action by the health workers union, they brought in students from TNIMA on our various walls,” Yassah Tokpah, one of the aggrieved nurses at JFK said.

“They have threatened to dismiss us and replace us with these students if we don’t go back to work.”

Madam Tokpah said those who were brought in as volunteer nurses, following the strike action are not up to the task to do professional work at the hospital and are not licensed medical practitioners.

The spokesperson of the JFK staffs, Nicolas Koffa said those who are serving not TNIMA Student, but are reserved nurses. 

The nurses has described Koffa statement as false and misleading, maintaining that their spokesman assertion does not represent their interest. 

Another nurse at the hospital, Tetee Thomas said they have not form a part of previous strike actions called by their national union due to threats from senior managers at JFK.

However, she said nurses at the JFK Hospital will remain a part of the ongoing strike until their demands are met.

The National Health Workers Union of Liberia has raisedconcerns over delay to pay workers three months’ salary, their working environment, equipment being used for medical purposes, adequate need for supplies at various facilities for patients among others.

At a press conference held in Monrovia on Monday, September 23, Deputy Minister Eugene Fahngon disclosed that the government has responded to the concerns of the health worker.  

“All salaries payments for July and August 2019 have been processed and checks transfer to various commercial banks for direct deposit into health workers account,” Fahngon disclosed.

Nevertheless Madam Thomas has joined her leadership, demanding that other crucial issues must be addressed before nurses can retuned to work.

“We will not go back to work until our issues are addressed, those you see in the hospital are not employed nurses. All of the nurses are outside in this process. JFK is taking risk with people lives by bringing in people who are still undergoing training,” Madam Thomas intoned.

“We will not go to work until our issues are addressed in a meeting at the Ministry of Health today.”

The Minister of Health Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah had requested the aggrieved nurses to send a representation to an ongoing meeting being held with NAHWUL, which drew out of Monday’s protest by health workers.  

Minister Jallah has appealed to the health workers to abandoned their action and revert to a dialogue.

“We are appealing to you to go back to work and we will try to address the situation as soon as possible,” Minister Jallah pleaded. 

At the same time Minister of State Nathaniel McGee who joined Minister Jallah at the JFK Hospital also assures the health workers that their pays are being process and that other cardinal issues will be addressed.

Minister McGee informed the health workers that delay in their pays was due to refusal on the part of the Internal Bank (IB) to loan government. 

“I want you to hold your peace, your money is in process. We went to IB to loan us but the bank refused on grounds we have not pay back previous loan,” McGee asserted.

However, according to Minister McGee, government has an alternative means to pay them, and is doing everything possible to address their plights. 

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