Health Workers in Bor threaten to protest, gives 48 hours ultimatum

South Sudan nurses and midwives march in Juba to mark International Day of the Nurse, May 2012 [courtesy photo]

Health workers at Bor State Hospital threaten to go on strike over unpaid incentives and poor working conditions. Doctors say the plan to walk off the job and look for greener pastures came as frustration for not being paid regularly make it difficult to support their families.

Doctor Goop Joh Ayom, representing the medical staff at Bor state hospital, narrated that health workers have gone for more than two months without incentives. Doctor Ayom further says she and other 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 write papers to patients to go outside and buy drugs, and some patients cannot afford the drugs. After 72 hours, if there is no response, we will stop working. Only 48 hours are remaining.” Ayom said

Doctor Ayom says it is difficult for medical personnel to treat patients in the emergency room without lifesaving drugs, which they ran out of 3 months ago. She says patients have been dying due to a lack of medicine at the facility.

Nurse John Anyieth Malaak says the medical staff has persevered despite the situation hoping their incentives would be paid but are now feeling frustrated.

 “Up to this juncture, there is not any single paracetamol in the hospital, and patients are sent out to go and buy drugs. And that is the difficult situation we are in. When there is an emergency, we struggle to ensure that the patient’s relative reaches the nearby clinic to bring any emergency drug needed. Otherwise, we have no drugs to help the patients.” Anyieth said

Deng Nhial works with Medico Del Mundo, an NGO paying incentives for medical staff at Bor State Hospital declined to comment.

Jonglei state health Minister Atong Kuol Manyang says she is aware of the doctors’ request 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.

 “We know they are right; this is their incentive, and they deserve to be paid that 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” she added.

Minister Manyang urges the Bor hospital medical staff to be patient, saying the ministry will resolve their grievances.

Incentives for staff at Bor state hospital range from 100 to 600 US dollars. A medical doctor receives 600 dollars, a clinical officer gets 400 dollars, while nurses and midwives receive 300 dollars.

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