The doctors’ strike was provoked by what they say is poor working condition and low pay. The striking doctors had presented a set of demands to the government include increase pay and improvement in the working environment.
Amidst repeated failed negotiations, the hospitals across the country went for nearly two weeks without medical doctors, with patients complaining of the effect. Poor Sierra Leoneans particularly suffered the impact as they couldn’t afford to seek healthcare service in the few but very expensive private facilities.
The strike was called by the Junior Doctors Association of Sierra Leone (JUDASL), and it was later endorsed by their senior colleagues under the umbrella of the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Council (SLMDC).
In the joint statement signed jointly by the Health minister and the heads of the associations representing junior the doctors and the umbrella SLMDC, all doctors involved in the strike were urged to return to work “with immediate effect.”
“Government has agreed on a timeline to respond to all concerns raised that will invariably start to improve the delivery of healthcare in Sierra Leone. This is in line with the government’s commitment to improve healthcare delivery and conditions of service for health workers nationwide,” the statement reads in part.
The government had argued that while it understand the doctors concern, their demand came a little late, after the 2019 budget had been presented to parliament and approved by the House.
This, according to the Ministry, meant that it couldn’t make any changes in the salary scales. The Ministry had also argued that some of the demands in terms of working condition were already being addressed as part of the new government’s program for the health sector.