By Bill W. Cooper
The National Executive Committee of the National Health Workers Union of Liberia (NAHWUL) has blasted the Ministry of Health (MoH) over its decision to exclude the union from the ongoing stakeholders meeting aimed at validating a major policy framework document for the health sector of the country in Ganta, Nimba County.
The ongoing stakeholders meeting in Nimba County which is being organized by the MoH, is held under the banner, “National Health Policy and Strategic Plan, a Roadmap to Universal Health Coverage.”
The union in a release stressed, “Once again, there is yet another important policy validation in our health sector without the representation of the Frontline Healthcare Workers Union who are the cornerstone of any health policy or whose members working live, this policy will directly affect, and the very same workers being the people who bear greater burden of the implementation of said policy in our country.”
According to the dispatch, the latest action by the Health Ministry, is a clear demonstration of a total disregard for the professional women and men whose sacrifices over the years have kept the health sector up and running, even at the detriment of their lives.
The NAHWUL in its release maintained that the exclusion of the union from the process by the MoH is also a clearer violation and the ignoring of the precepts in count 54 of the Universal Health Coverage Declaration of 2019 which calls for the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, including Civil Society, through the establishment of participatory and transparent multi- stakeholder platforms and partnership to provide inputs to the development, implementation and evaluation of health and social related policies and reviewing progress for achievement of national objectives for Universal Health Coverage.
The NAHWUL further intoned that despite health workers
call for inclusion in social dialogue since 2007, successive administrations remain insensitive to the workers demands and international best practice.
The Union at the same time also frowned on the continuous and persistent exclusion of healthcare workers
representatives from all policy planning and decision making together with all other labor relations, social dialogue in the Ministry of Health, stressing, "NAHWUL wishes to make it emphatically clear that there is no representative of the workers at the ongoing validation process in Ganta, Nimba County and if anybody was introduced as workers representative to you, such was handpicked by the administration thus, has no mandate of organized labor, whatsoever." It can be recalled that the alleged refusal of health authorities to listen to the workers union in 2014 amidst the Ebola Crisis did not only lead to dissemination of misleading information on the Ebola Virus Disease by none medical personnel hired for community engagement; it at the time led to massive public disbelief and made health workers targets of aggression and stigmatization of victims, but also had fatal consequence which witnessed the death of over 8% of Liberia’s minimum health workforce.
Meanwhile, NAHWUL has called on the Legislative Joint Committee on Health, stakeholders of the health sector, which include development partners, Leaders of Religious and Traditional Councils, the Interfaith Mediation Committee, members of the Civil Society Community and the Liberian Labour Congress, to prevail on the MoH authorities to immediately halt the validation process for the inclusion of representatives of the workers and return to status quo ante with the already inadequate salary structures of health care workers.
The union then reassured the public their commitment to their various professional ethics and duties to Liberia and its citizenry of ensuring a better and affordable healthcare delivery despite the unprecedented marginalization they continue to suffer under successive administration in the health sector of Liberia.
Heath Workers Take
Issue With Authorities
By Bill W. Cooper