By Mark Mengonfia
As the fight against the coronavirus ranges on, there are reports that the Liberian Government has retired several Medical doctors.
The Liberian Government recently retired several medical doctors who were said to be playing critical role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Their retirement comes as the result of what the Ministry of Health and Civil Service Law of Liberia retirement ages as prescribed in the CSA law.
In an interview with some of the retired medical doctors who requested not to be named said they have not reached the retirement age of 65 in line with the Civil Service law of Liberia.
According to the disappointed medical doctors, it was dishonor to them for their names to be placed on a listing in the public informing them of their retirement.
Some of the retired doctors attributed the Liberian Government’s action as ingratitude to them to have retired them without look at the level of work they have done in the health sector of the country.
One of the doctors according to reports is unable to payback his loan because of such action from the Government.
The doctors also alleged that they have been working for the past four months without salary and follow by retirement.
When contacted, the president of the Liberia Medical and Dental Association, Dr. Emmanuel Ekymabah confirmed that the leadership of LMDA sometimes in February of this year got a message from the Ministry of Health that some medical doctors were going to be retired.
He pointed out that the LMDA intervened, but was informed by authorities at the Ministry of Health that the action is part of the Civil Service Agency law and that of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation.
According to him, the LMDA wrote three communications to the authorities of the MOH to have the retirement properly looked into before taking said action against the Doctors.
In one of the communications by the LMDA President Ekinabah addressed to the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhemina S. Jallah dated April 3, 2020. Indicated,” I bring you compliments and heartfelt greetings from the LMDA. The LMDA has been informed by MOH that there will be a retirement scheme for doctors who are sixty years and above as this is the policy of the Civil Service Agency and that of National Social Security and Welfare Corporation .In view of the above , LMDA is kindly asking you(MOH) to please reconsider your decision at this crucial time of the COVID 19 outbreak in our country as most of these doctors have experienced skills that are needed in the fight against the pandemic .Thanks for your kind consideration “
According to him, the LMDA leadership makes an appeal to the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Health to reconsider their decision relating to the health crisis that the country is confronted with including their experiences with in the sector .
He said due to such urgency there is a need for all hands on deck and there was a need to have those doctors on board with experience.
“Those doctors are experience and stay able to work so we said those that are capable of working should continual to work and then we started the negotiation, the understanding was those doctors go to work while we work on the details but surprisingly one of the doctors calls me heartbroken that he got the letter and regrettably all of the time of the negotiation those doctors have been working so that means their employers are obligated to them to pay their salaries, ’’ he noted.
Dr.Ekyinabah said the LMDA and top Government officials had a meeting concerning the ages of medical doctors for retirement, emphasizing that it takes long time to prepare a doctor, stating that the Government spend lot of money on those doctors among others.
He further confirmed that doctors took salary back loan that need to be pay in line with the agreements.
Additionally the president of the LMDA also communicated to the Minister of Health Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah on May 22, 2020 . in the communication “ The National Executive Council of the Liberia Medical and Dental Association writes with a deepening sense of concern over the clarification given by your office to the COVID19 Hazard allowances for health workers. The LMDA , while open to negotiation on the COVID 19, Hazard payment categorically rejects as unacceptable a proposed deferred payment scheme for health workers in the COVID 19 Treatment Unit .All health workers are front liners .The rate of infection amongst health care workers is high. Approximately 13.7% of confirmed positive cases in Liberia are health care workers. The health workers who got infected were not only from the CTU . All health workers are at increased risk of COVID 19 infection daily because we see patient in out assigned facilities .The COVID 19 pandemic is an unpredictable pattern and even WHO acknowledged that COVID19 may linger for an 8unspecified period of time. The time line as proposed by MOH for hazard is unpredictable and as such the LMDA deems this decision to defer hazard payment for some health workers as counterproductive with the propensity to de-motivate health workers and adversely affect service delivery across the health care system. All Doctors /Dentists who has answered humanity’s call to serve should be treated as front liners in the COVID 19 Response .We are requesting that all hazard payment to Doctors and Dentists be implemented simultaneously ‘’ the communication indicated.
He further disclosed that the Minister of Health through a communication on May 27, 2020 a copy that is in the possession of this newspaper acknowledge receipt of the LMDA Communication requesting hazard payment to all healthcare workers in the country simultaneously for the fight against COVID 19.
In her communication Minister Jallah indicated that “ consider your service to the health sector very important and want to play a manifold role in this matter , in furtherance of the above , kindly be informed that we are working along with stakeholders regarding this issue and will revert to you later’”. Investigation continual.