Ellen warns protesting health workers
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has cautioned health workers not to always see trouble in the country as an opportunity to cause problems, warning that their action would provoke a response they would not like.
She spoke with reporters Wednesday in at the Firestone Liberia rubber wood processing factory in Harbel, Margibi County following a guided tour of the facility.
The Liberian leader was totally enraged over news that health workers had gone to the emergency operations center where Deputy Health Minister, Tolbert Nyenswah and his team, including partners had converged and disengaged the generator before locking the officials up.
“Liberians got to stop it… when we got problem, we got to solve it; we got to work together and solve it. You create other problem for us then you make us do things that you will not like,” she warned.
Health workers and police staged a running battle Wednesday, July 1, before the new Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Congo Town, outskirt of Monrovia during protest in demand of risk benefits, leaving at least two persons wounded.
Police flogged the two victims in an attempt to disperse the protestors, who had gathered outside the compound of the ministry, demanding benefits they claimed the government owed them.
The victims, severely beaten to an extent that they couldn’t move or walk, were subsequently taken to a nearby clinic, but later brought back on the scene and laid on the main street.
Harry Esktrom, a hygienist, said they had earlier met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on their demand, but there has been no positive response.
He claimed members of the Liberian Legislature, including senators had also been approached, but nothing has been put in place or allocated for them.
Harry detailed that they have a contract with the government, stipulating that after the Ebola Virus, every health worker, who survived the disease will receive US$5,000 as risk benefit, but since Liberia was declared Ebola freed by the World Health Organization in May, the government has allegedly reneged on the commitment.
According to him, government has paid all survivors, but has refused to give them their benefits as agreed.
The protestors have threatened to boycott all health facilities in the wake of reports of new cases in the country, if government failed to pay them their benefits.
The protest came as the Government of Liberia confirmed two new cases following the death of a 17-year-old boy from Ebola in Margibi County.
Commenting on the new Ebola cases in Liberia, President Sirleaf said, it “is very disturbing” and government is trying to get to the root of how it happened.
She however expressed confidence that the Incident Management System under the Ministry of Health is capable to “contain, isolate and keep it to right where it is” so that it doesn’t spread across the country.
Liberian health authorities said a 17-year-old boy died of the virus in Smell No Taste community, Margibi County last week.
“We have already quarantined all the young people who [were] involved with this person who died,” said the President.
By Winston W. Parley & Rewina Juduh