Health workers threaten to go on strike over unpaid incentives in Bor
By Deng Ghai Deng
Health workers at Bor State Hospital were threatening to go on strike over unpaid incentives and poor working conditions. According to doctors, they planned to walk off the job and look for greener pastures because they had not been paid their salaries for months and their families lacked food to eat.
Speaking to media yesterday, Dr. Goop Joh Ayom, the Chairperson of Medical Staff of Bor State Hospital said that health workers had gone for more than two months without incentives.
“Medical staff will walk off the job if the government does not address their grievances within the next 48 hours.We are suffering and we need our incentives. Even here in the hospital we don’t have essential drugs; we just write papers to patients to go outside and buy drugs and some patients cannot afford to buy the drugs. After 72 hours if there is no response, we will stop working. There are only 48 hours remaining.” Ayom said.
Ayomrevealed that patients have been dying due tolack of medicine at the health facility andit was difficult for medical personnel to treat patients in the emergency room without lifesaving drugs which they ran out for the last three months.
Meanwhile, JohnAnyiethMalaak, said the medical staff persevered despite the situation hoping their incentives would be paid but were by then feeling frustrated.
“When there is any emergency, we just struggle to make sure that the relatives of the patient reach the nearby clinic to bring any emergency drug which is needed otherwise, we have no drugs to help the patients.” Anyieth said.
However, Jonglei State Health Minister AtongKuolManyang said that she is aware of the doctors’ ultimatum and apologized for the delay in paying their incentives but urged the hospital’s medical staff to continue working and saving lives, saying the government will soon address their grievances.
“Their incentives were not paid on time because UNICEF, which is the donor, was still planning to give the money to the incoming partners because the contract with Medico Del Mundo had expired, so the ministry which was the supporting partner. Now the ministry has met UNICEF and it’s been agreed that the incentives will be given to MDM which is the outgoing partner to pay them.” Manyang said.
Minister Manyang urged the Bor hospital medical staff to be patient, saying the ministry would work out their grievances.
“We know they are right; this is their incentive and they deserve to be paid for looking at the type of work that they do saving people’s lives, so we know that they work hard, we rely on them for the health of our community and we know the important role they play within the health sector. what I wanted to say is that I ask them to go back to work and to tell them that the government is working on this with our partners. They have to give us time because the money is there” she added.
Incentives for staff at Bor state hospital ranged from 100 to 600 dollars. A medical doctor receives 600 dollars, a clinical officer gets 400 dollars, while nurses and midwives receive 300 dollars.
Two weeks ago, doctors, clinical officers, nurses, midwives and lab technicians went on strike at Juba Teaching Hospital, South Sudan’s only national referral hospital. Many patients were left unattended.
Health workers demanded unpaid Covid-19 risk incentives, accommodations and food allowances. The South Sudan Doctors Union said compared to other medical professionals in the region, health workers in South Sudan were vastly underpaid and received no benefits.