The Gambia’s Association of Nurses and Midwives (AGaNM) and the Ministry of Health are locked into a fierce battle of words over the payment of allowances to Nurses and Midwives in the Gambia. The AGaNM have called for a sit-down strike of a number of Health Service Departments over unpaid allowances, however, the Ministry of Health issued a statement demanding that there is no reason for the nurses to strike. Below is the statement from the Ministry of Health stating that staff failing to report to work “will be dealt with”. All statements were issued on 31st August 2021.
PRESS RELEASE ON NURSES AND MIDWIFERY ASSOCIATION PROPOSED STRIKE ACTION
The Ministry of Health wishes to inform the Nurses and Midwives Association that the payment of the approved allowances by the Ministry of Health has already started and is in progress. The Central Bank has been posting the payments to individual staff bank accounts. Some nurses have already confirmed receiving their payments. The hospitals submitted their list only yesterday (30th September 2021) and are being processed for immediate payment. The Ministry of Health therefore sees no reason for the nurses to go on strike.
All staff are expected to be at their duty station tomorrow and on time.
Failure to report to work will be considered as absenteeism and will be dealt with according to the stipulated laws.
The Regional Health Directors, Heads of Health Institutions, and all Heads of Units are requested to take a register of those who are deliberately absent from work for action.
The full wrath of the regulations will be prescribed for those not in their duty post effective 1st September 2021.
Henceforth, we urge all nurses to be at work tomorrow and on time as dictated by their respective duty rosters.
The Ministry of Health is soliciting the continuous support and cooperation of the public in its efforts to continue to provide timely health services to all. In the light of the prevailing circumstances, the public is encouraged to exercise restrain while visiting health facilities.
End of Statement from Ministry of Health
In response to the above statement from the Ministry of Health, the AGaNM issued a statement claiming that the Ministry of Health’s statements are misleading. Below is the statement from the AGaNM.
AGaNM ASSERTS: THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH MADE A MISLEADING PRESS RELEASE
A statement in the press release of the Ministry of Health, which is dated on the 30th August, 2021, only signals that the 31st August press conference could be targeted to mislead Gambians. The statement reads, “The allowance payment to nurses is part of the initiatives of Ministry of Health.” The National Executive Committee will first declare this statement as misleading before giving some warnings.
Firstly, the only initiative of Ministry of Health on allowances was the one for Honourable Minister himself, doctors and PhD holders at the main Ministry. This request made by the Honourable Minister was granted by the cabinet on February 5th, 2021. Prior to this catastrophic decision by the Honourable Minister and the cabinet, a proposal initiated and forwarded by nurses for allowances to be enhanced was thrown out at the bilaterals by the Ministry of Health and the PMO. As nurses, we accepted the situation thinking that their justifications were genuine only to wake up on February 5th and see the news all over. Nurses were flabbergasted to see a few people at the central Ministry being paid a proposed amount that could have upgraded the entire allowances for nurses. Having clarify this, we want the general public to know that Ministry of Health’s claim to have initiatived payment of these allowances is completely misleading.
Moving on, the general public is hereby reminded that this is an election year; therefore, there is a very high likelihood that the press conference is aimed at winning back their trust not at solving the prevailing problems that can seriously jeopardise access to healthcare service delivery in The Gambia. The public, however, is advised to listen with an open mind, keenly, and process the information to draw conclusions.
Finally, NAGaNM wishes to warn the Ministry of Health to refrain from making a single derogatory statement against nurses either directly or connotatively. If they fail to pay heed, they should be ready for the consequences. In conclusion, Ministry of Health should stop thinking that they can beguile the entire nation. They should own up to their willful negligence as leaders and take responsibility. The National Association of Gambia Nurses and Midwives will release a statement on the 31st of August, 2021 at 4:30 pm.
End of AGaNM Statement.
The AGaNM also issued another statement outlining how their protest would be intensified to a complete Nationwide sit-down strike which would seriously affect the delivery of health care services in the Gambia. Below is the statement from the AGaNM.
PRESS RELEASE: NURSES WILL EMBARK ON A SIT-DOWN STRIKE ON 1st SEPTEMBER, 2021 @ 8AM
After thorough analysis of the payments made by the Ministry of Health, the National Executive Committee arrived at the obvious conclusion that Ministry’s decision to pay a handful of nurses was targeted to halt the sit-down strike rather than address the entire situation. Having had more than 100days to honour the agreement brokered at the State’s House with SG and Head of Civil Services, Ministry of Health has no genuine excuse for not meeting the agreed deadline for payments to be disbursed. From 11th May – 31st August, 2021 was enough time if it really mattered to them.
The sit-down strike will be in two phases; however, it will continue until all nurses are paid.
PHASE 1: 1ST – 3RD SEPTEMBER, 2021.
All departments will close EXCEPT Emergency Department, Labor Ward, Dialysis Unit, ICU, Neonatal Unit, and Operating Theater.
All other departments should not report.
PHASE 2: 4TH SEPTEMBER 8 am to …….
Complete Sit-down strike!
No nurse in The Gambia will report to work.
We urge all nurses to respect the decision today and the subsequent decisions.
Office of Information and Communications, NAGaNM
End of AGaNM Statement.