By Tabora Bojang
The nurses and midwives association has said the recent increment of allowances to doctors and PhD holders is discriminatory and a slap in the face of junior health workers and other specialists “who continue to experience inappropriate working conditions and low salaries.”
The increment was announced by the health minister, himself a top surgeon, early this month reportedly “to bring in efficiency and synergy in the incentive packages within the health sector”.
But in their reaction shared with The Standard the nurses and midwives association said the move is “discriminatory and demotivating” to junior health care workers who are “the frontline soldiers in health care delivery”.
The association said it was dismayed by the rejection of its proposal to the ministry calling for an increase in allowances for officers-in-charge and the entire nursing fraternity. “The ministry responded to us saying that our proposal was disapproved at the budget bilateral talks with the Personnel Management Office and therefore cannot be implemented. But to the greatest shock of all nurses, a package has been approved for a few doctors and PhD holders at the ministry,” the nurses and midwives complained in their statement sent to the ministry and signed by secretary general Ousman Touray.
They further complained that nurses constitute over 60% of the entire work force of the health system and that their participation in delivering compassionate care cannot be overstated. “They work and sacrifice their lives at every given situation irrespective of the inadequacy of protective gears and supplies for patient care. Despite all these facts, nurses have always been debased by the ministry under different leadership. This trend has continued and the most recent approval of the allowances for doctors and PhD holders, is a clear manifestation of the extension,” they lamented.
The members further charged that there is a common belief among nurses that they are not recognised hence “all the good services they are rendering are not accorded the respect and consideration in terms of incentives, technical and managerial positions”.
The membership warned that it foresees “a looming healthcare crisis in the near future, if matters relating to the welfare, enumeration and motivational package for nurses are not treated with urgency.
“In order to resolve the current issue concerning the nursing cadre, we the national executive committee kindly request as a matter of urgency a positive response to the request for redress with regard to allowances for this essential cadre of health workers. Failure of the ministry to address the felt needs of nurses outlined in the proposal sent to the ministry by the executive committee will most certainly discourage them and ultimately lead to poor and inadequate care for Gambians. The committee will continue to advise calm among its members as it awaits the ministry to address the situation. Finally, the national executive also feels obliged to recommend that the ministry treat this matter with all urgency and give a response not later than Friday [26th February]