Miatta Kargbo Minister of Health
It is not easy being a health worker in Sierra Leone. It is a job that requires a lot of patience, dedication and sacrifice. The fact that Junior Doctors receive a paltry $600 (£375) goes to show that they are not being rewarded accordingly for all their hard work and sacrifices.
The issue here is not about the salary per se even though it needs to be revised so that the pay is commensurate to the hard work our brothers and sisters are doing back home.
To expect someone to work diligently; especially saving lives, you must endeavour to make them happy. They put their lives at risk, looking after an ailing population. It is only fair that the state looks after THEIR welfare as well. It is not too much to ask, really.
That is why it came as a shock, when I learnt from a Junior Doctor that fuel and top-up allowances allocated for them were not forth-coming. This only came to light when their representatives met with the president during the strike in protest of their suspended colleague, Dr Murray in December 2013.
“Apparently, we should be getting fuel and top-up allowance but we never received any. We use to use our own credits on our personal phones to consult with our bosses” said the Junior Doctor.
According to the source, there is Le. 30.000.000 in the budget for mobile phone top-ups; plus 100 litres of fuel every quarter (3months) whether they own a car or not. However, they had never received any fuel or top-ups. It begs the question; who has been ‘pocketing’ top-up and fuel allowances?
The good news is that they are now receiving their allowances and rightly so. Nevertheless, it does not negate the fact that the funds were being diverted elsewhere. It is only fair to know where it was going. If not in the Doctors’ pocket, whose pocket has it been going?
“My brother, it is difficult to work in the health profession in Sierra Leone. It is really difficult. If it wasn’t by the grace of God, many would not be doing the job that we do” said the Junior Doctor exhaustingly.
The source also intimated that their bosses in the medical profession are doing their best but political interference makes their work a lot more difficult.
doctorDoctors and healthcare workers play a VITAL role in society. In fact, the most important role in society. TO SAVE LIVES. It is only fair and wise that the morale among healthcare workers and doctors is up there.
Give them the resources, training and encouragement that they need and deserve and they will work diligently. They are making sacrifices already. Imagine if their salaries and perks were commensurate to their labour. It is counter-productive to short-change them.
If health is wealth; then it follows that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Our doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers look after the health of the nation; it is only fair that the state looks after their welfare sincerely. Money should not be taken from their pockets to fill deeper pockets.
Note: Cross-checking information and hearing the other side of the story is good journalistic practice. In that regard, I contacted Mr Sidie Yayah Tunis, the Communications Director of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS). This was on Monday 14 July 2014.
Mr Tunis came back to me saying he would cross-check the information with the relevant people and get back to me with the answers. I followed up the following day but this time, did not receive any response.
mysierraleoneonline.com can say here that this story is not far from the reality on the ground, as the 2013 Anti Corruption Perception Survey has branded the Ministry of Health and and Sanitation as the most corrupt ministry in the country.
By: Milton Margai:sierraleonematters.co.uk