Liberia’s health workers, including medical doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and pharmacists, have been accused of “politicizing and ethnicizing” the sector in the treatment of patients, thereby putting lives at risk at various hospitals nationwide.
The president of the Liberia National Physician Assistants Association (LNPAA), Theophilus Tamba Fayiah, recently told the media in Monrovia that politics and ethnicity are allegedly being practiced by health workers in various hospitals, clinics or health posts, to the extent that those who took oath to save lives have crossed the line of the noble profession.
He said the politicization and ethnicization of the sector prompted Health Minister, Wilhelmina Jallah, and others, to visit Nimba, Bong, Lofa, Margibi and Rivercess Counties, where health workers were told of their wrongdoing which does not augur well for the country and the population.
Fayiah said Jallah and team told the workers that there is imminent increment in their monthly salary as of 2024, following 18 months of negotiation with government, that between US$500 and US$1,500 shall be earned in various categories and disciplines in the sector, instead of the present of US$250.00 per nurse.
He said medical doctors’ present monthly salary is US$2,398.00, which is more than a nurse because during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a medical doctor was earning US$700, and a nurse L$15,000, but that has changed during the present regime; however, what is annoying the health workers is the lack of “cuts, red-tips or kickbacks” they were getting at that time, which are no longer forthcoming.
LNPAA’s president said politicizing and ethnicizing the treatment of patients by medical doctors and nurses in various hospitals and clinics across the country is against the ethics of the medical profession, because as health practitioners, you are there to save human lives and not to preach politics with it.
Therefore, Fayiah continued that it is wrong for a health practitioner to question a patient which of the political party (ies) he or she belongs to or supports, whether the Unity Party (UP) or the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and if the patient responded that he or she supports the CDC, then that patient is allegedly denied treatment, which has sent a bad signal to the outside world about the country.
He said there is overwhelming evidence of testimonies of such from victims (patients) against medical doctors and nurses in various public and private hospitals nationwide, and it is scaring because it causes people to suffer mental torture, but until there are measures to safeguard the sector by depoliticizing and de-ethnicizing it, the country’s population stands in serious danger, regardless who wins the run-off.
Fayiah stated that it is against the medical profession for practitioners to be members of a political party, but he or she has the constitutional right to cast vote for any candidate of his or her choice during electioneering, as there is no crime being committed in that, but it is detrimental to punish patient(s) because of their political belief and tribe, while seeking treatment.
“Medical practitioners are not politicians; therefore, they cannot be members of any political party. It is against the ethics of the profession, but they can vote for any candidate of their choice in an electioneering period. Regrettably, there are some medical practitioners who served as deputy and campaign managers of some candidates during this year’s polls,” he noted.
Fayiah says it is absolutely wrong and must not be encouraged by Liberians, because the health of the population is more important than any election, indicating that at the moment, medical doctors and nurses are being paid well, as compared to the former regime.
He said the country’s health workers have crossed the boundary or red-line of the profession, and this has sent out bad news outside about the country, which could affect it in the future, saying, “If you do not want to vote for the President’s re-election, do not use the health sector by threatening patients.
Fayiah then expressed regret at the medical doctors who benefitted from huge monthly salary increment of US$2,398 but are mute and not speaking out, rather leaving it to the nurses, who are the larger segment of the healthcare workforce in the country.