Empty halls in Liberia’s largest hospital as a nationwide strike by medical workers bites.
Patients sit in the street hoping for treatment. Others have been discharged prematurely or simply turned away. The scene is the same for other clinics in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
“I’m here for treatment, but the government does not want to pay the workers, so they won’t atttend to us. We are just sitting and our children are sick, and they told us not to enter the gate, that’s why we are sitting outside. If your child is sick, and you just buy medicine, if something happens to the child they will ask you ‘why didn’t you bring the child to the hospital?’‘, Gifty Harris queried.
We are just sitting and our children are sick, and they told us not to enter the gate.
Ruth Flomo, 19, is three months pregnant and a soon-to-be mother.
“If anything happens to us right now, the government will be responsible, because the nurses are not helping because they are not getting paid. Their children are not going school. They have to pay them. I was here yesterday, and no way, today I’m here, no way”, Flomo said.
Public medical staff are demanding better wages, backlogged salary arrears and improved working conditions.
“The fact that there are no chemicals, laboratory agents in the hospitals and even equipment to do proper diagnosis of cases of patients, and so many times patients have to be referred out of the country or they have to seek treatment outside of Liberia, we think this is not right”, said George Poe Williams, Secretary General of the Liberian National health workers union.
The union plans to continue the strike until the Liberian government meet their demands.
Representatives of the health ministry declined to comment. On Monday, angry patients blocked the road of one of Monrovia’s community hospital because they could not receive treatment.