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Allowances exclusion: Public &  environmental officers threaten sit-down strike

Apr 4, 2022, 12:03 PM | Article By: Momodou Jawo 

The Association of Public and Environmental Health Officers (APEHOG), under the Ministry of Health (MoH) has threatened to embark on a nationwide sit-down strike for allowances exclusion at the Health Ministry. 

They have vowed to embark on the sit-down on Tuesday 5th April 2022, if the relevant authorities fail to meet their demands. The association’s demand is the Ministry of Health to include them in the new allowance scheme that is provided for some cadre within the said ministry.

During a press conference held over the weekend at Kotu, officials of the association claimed that all public and environmental officers who work with the government will be involved in the sit-down strike.

The public and environmental officers are responsible for the surveillance and disease control including contact tracing especially during peak period of Covid-19, screening of travellers at the POEs including the airport and the sea port and enforcement of Covid-19 regulations across the country. They also administer vaccines to adults and under-fives and disinfection and burial of the dead among host of others.

According to them, during one of their meetings with officials of the MoH, they also demanded the Health Ministry to immediately suspend/reverse the decision on the recent approval of allowances for few selected individuals within the ministry – something they described as “discriminatory and unfair” to the hard-working directors, programme managers, programme officers, health facility staff and front liners.

They also claimed that some volunteers within the ministry have been working for over two years without salaries. They also demand the initiation of review for allowance increment for all cadres in the Ministry of Health.

Musa Nget, the vice president of APEHOG, said the association is a registered non profitable association of public health professionals in The Gambia. “The association has been in existence since 1971 generously serving the health professionals specifically and communities in general,” he said, adding that the membership of the association serves both in the private and government health institutions across the country.

Nget recalled that in early 2021, the Ministry of Health proposed to create a specific allowance for the Health Minister, PhD holders and Medical doctors serving the Ministry of Health. “This, we believe was very discriminatory and had caused unprecedented chaos not only within the public health cadre but within the entire Ministry of Health.” The decision came as a shock to the cadre and since then a host of avenues have been explored for the inclusion of other cadres into the new allowance scheme.”

The leadership of the association, he added, therefore deemed it fitting to collaborate with other sister cadres who have been unfairly excluded from the new allowance scheme. 

Nget maintained that they had a series of meetings and correspondences with the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Services, personnel of the PMO and officials from the Ministry with a view to solving the issues but to no avail.

 “Therefore, the general membership of the Association of Public and Environmental Health Officers has agreed that as an association with mass representation in the Ministry of Health, we strongly recommend that the allowance issue be solved before the 5th May 2022. Contrary to meeting demand by the aforesaid date, Public Health Officers across the country will lay down their tools.”

Mr. Nget said: “APEHOG is highly concerned about this unjust treatment and hopes that a consensus can be reached to avoid any disruption to services. We will wait on tangible feedback from the health authorities. We will endeavour to keep all our members calm and focused to deliver quality health care services to our people until otherwise,” he posited.

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