The Informer (Monrovia)

21 February 2013

Liberia: Health Workers Reopen Balla Scott's Case

The President of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NaWAL) Mr. Joseph S. Tamba has called on the Government of Liberia to release detailed reports on investigations surrounding circumstances leading to the murder of one of the long term workers of the John F.Kennedy (JFK) Hospital the late Balla Scott.

Speaking to the press shortly after he led a large number of health workers to the office of Senator Dr. Peter Coleman, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Social Welfare, the NaHWAL Prexy observed that the authorities often take health workers in this country for a ride.

He said they were at the office of Senator Coleman to acquaint him and other members of his committee including Rep.. Johnson Chieh and Rep. Darkieh that their association which comprises about 3,500 health workers in the public sector and another 3,000 in the private sector which is a total of 6,000 members covering the entire 15 counties of the Republic of Liberia to send out the signals that they are not blind to their being marginalized.

He indicated that only few of them answered to their short call to present petitions to the Senate and House committees on Health and Social Welfare, adding that for so long, they have been deprived of their rights to decent wages commensurate with incentives offered to health workers in other parts of the world.

How many nurses and midwives in this country are on payroll? He asked. He answered that the majority of health workers in the country are working as volunteers earning as low as US$120 and US$150 a month. "We view that government should do something towards improving the conditions of health workers in this country. Other African countries such as Sierra Leone have readjusted the salary of health workers after continuous civil society agitations," he said.

Explaining the Balla Scott issue, Joseph S. Tamba stated that it is a good example to show that health sector workers in this suffering are suffering and not satisfied as even their monthly salaries are not enough to sustain them.

"Balla Scott disappeared from the JFK where he had worked for 25 years and was admitted for medical treatment. He was hustled out and murdered, and his body dumped in a nearby swamp, " he said.

According to the Health workers Association President, when the body of Balla was found after weeks of frantic search, government said this was not Balla and his sister went there for DNA blood test. He added that they also told his sister that his sister's DNA and that of the late Balla do not match and promised to send the specimen abroad for examination.

"Since that specimen has been sent abroad we have not heard anything about the case and each time we confront them on the issue thay will offer new excuses. The question of what actually happened to Balla Scott is still hanging in the air," Tamba narrated.

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