September 28, 2022

That the medical service is one of the most indubitable in any life modern society is a fact of life. It is a sine qua non. “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick” –Matt 9:12. That is the divide along which the public are viewing the strike. It is a fact that one never knows the value of health until one gets sick. The hapless professionals labor incessantly to destroy the reason for their existence.

It is no news about the length of time a student takes to qualify as a medical doctor compared with many other professions.

It is ironic that while they are in the midst of their studies students of other professions qualify and begin earning salaries which their contemporaries in medicine cannot catch up with in spite of their swatting.This is due to a lopsided evaluation of emoluments by the authorities. At the end of the day permanent secretaries and other kindred professionals with about half the time of medical studies earn far more with perquisites. In contra-distinction doctors in Sierra Leone are constrained to part with some of their paltry earning for such things like syringes and emergency medicines on humanitarian grounds.

It is noteworthy that while the doctor/population ratio is appalling the medical service in the country has been kept on its two feet by the indefatigable Community Health Officers hundreds of whom hold the fort even at the worst of times.They serve as locums where no doctors never serve. Another cushion effect of this strike is the presence of foreign doctors in some hospitals.What is rather irksome is the fact that doctors in neighboring countries like Liberia are reported to be earning far more than our doctors thereby causing a flight to another developing country whose pastures are greener.

In the ongoing/past impasse the question was posed by the Minister of Labour with his back against the wall that the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association had no right to strike by givinga 21 day ultimatum because they constitute an Association and not a Trade Union. But if the exception proves the rule in this life and death situation their case should have been shorn of academia. The doctors themselves know that they are not a Trade Union with bargaining powers but push has come to shove. They had reached the end of their tether. The government is fiddling while Sierra Leone burns.

Arguments may be bandied about that the present situation obtained during the last regime but the doctors did not react this way. However there is a time for every purpose under the sun.The dictatorial government is gone and this is ostensibly a listening government that will hearken unto the plight of our life-savers.We need not be pushed into the arms of quacks and traditional healers after all those expenses at the medical school.

It’s no genuine excuse that the doctors swung into action after the budget had been prepared. This problem had been simmering since 2015 and even before that date. As medical practitioners do prognosis so the government should have done to pre-empt the strike. It’s no use coming up with that lame excuse of post budget clamoring.Where was this government-in-waiting when Chief Executive Officers were earning upwards of Le74 million a month under the APC compared to a doctor’s Le3 million? Government has run out of reasonable excuses.They should do more for the sacrificial doctors now. Attractive conditions have been dangled before the doctors.They should now see reason and call off the strike.