In an exclusive interview with this newspaper recently , the President elect of the National Health Workers' Union of Liberia, Joseph S Tamba, called on the Liberian Government to prioritize health care in the country.
According to Mr. Tamba, who was reelected in the Union's recently held general and presidential elections in Gbarnga, Bong County, out of Liberia's fifteen counties where reports were gathered by the Union, Lofa County has 32 clinics, most of which lack drugs and other medical supplies, thereby hampering the smooth operation of the clinics.
He said it goes beyond reasoning for the government, its partners and well-meaning Liberians to take their time and money to build clinics for the sake of the citizenry, and yet not provide for these clinics to be stocked with enough drugs and equipment to make the work of the staff to save lives more effective and less strenuous.
President Tamba said another issue that is seriously affecting healthcare delivery in Liberia is "inconsistent salary payments." He said that as a result of salaries for healthcare workers not being paid on time consistently, the majority of these workers "are doing their own thing in the clinics, because their salaries are not coming in on time." Tamba is calling on the Liberian government to intervene in these issues so as to bring relief to healthcare workers and the sector in Liberia.
National health workers' union president elect Joseph S. Tamba leads a procession along the principal street in Gbarnga, Bong County over the weekend
Although he did not name the particular report, Tamba said that the same national report revealed that Nimba County has 39 clinics, but that the same issues of lack of medicines, medical equipment and inconsistent salaries are plaguing the healthcare delivery system of that county, adding: "This is something the government should urgently address."
In an effort to raise awareness and support of their situation, the national healthcare union workers are calling on their counterparts in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin to buttress their advocacy for better government support to health and healthcare issues in Liberia. The union workers said their partners in Nigeria have made commitments to help them with physical and financial support to help improve the Liberian healthcare sector.
Also making a remark during the interview, Dr. Medica, who is a medical doctor at Phebe Hospital, said that with this being the "political season in Liberia," healthcare workers "should focus on saving lives instead of being entangled in political issues." He said that with emotions running high during elections, healthcare workers should remember that regardless of political affiliations, their work is to save lives, and that "nothing should interfere with that."