Public health officers end sit-down strike

Apr 12, 2022, 11:36 AM | Article By: Adama Tine

The Association of Public Health Officers of the Gambia (APEHOH), who on April 6, 2022, pronounced an industrial sit-down strike as a result of the Ministry of Health’s failure to pay their allowances, yesterday at a press conference announced work resumption today after making prior engagements with the government to resolve the matter soonest.

Giving a statement on behalf of the association, Musa Nget, the vice president of the association, revealed that over the years, public health officers across the country had fallen victim of cadre unjust treatment by authorities of the Ministry of Health.

He continued that these unjust treatments include but not limited to unjustified redeployment of senior public health officers, undermining the public health officers’ expert opinion on matters of public health, demotion of senior public health officers and most recently, the exclusion of public health officers in the approved allowance scheme for the Ministry of Health staff.

“Prior to the sit-down strike, the past executive and the current executive of the association and the allowance taskforce had several engagement meetings with the senior management of the Ministry of Health dating back to March 2021 but sadly, nothing concrete came from those meetings.”

“Since on the 6th of April, the executive and the allowance taskforce of APEHOG had been engaging the administration of the Ministry of Health and most recently the Secretary General and Head of Civil Service to amicably find a solution to the matter.”

He further disclosed that on the 10th of April, 2022, APEHOG convened an emergency congress to come to consensus with regard to the sit-down strike and as part of the resolutions agreed upon from the emergency congress, they have concluded that all public health officers should report back to work on Tuesday, 12th April, 2022, marking the end of the first phase of the sit-down strike.

He explained that the agreement came after holding a meeting with the SG and Head of Civil Service who in his letter promised that their allowances will be paid by the end of May.

According to him, the Public Health Cadre has maintained an impressive immunisation delivery performance which resulted in The Gambia being rated and awarded by GAVI in 2009 as high immunisation performance country.

“Thanks to the selfless sacrifice of public health officers across the country on disease surveillance and immunisation programmes, The Gambia has been declared polio-free in 2004 and all the polio surveillance indicators have been met to date,” he added.

He pointed out that the sacrifice of public health officers in The Gambia has led to a huge improvement in Environmental Sanitation across the country. An example is the public health led intervention called National Open Defecation Free Initiative which has resulted in improved sanitation in many communities and Hygiene conditions were significantly improved in many communities.

In addition, he said the Public Health Cadre has been playing a significant role in pushing the agenda of both the National Health and Education Programmes in the country.

“Public health officers have been very instrumental and spearheading a series of community active engagements on a wide range of health and nutrition interventions resulting in improvement of healthy behaviour.”  In conclusion, he said “we are firm believers of the conviction that we remain resilient and unshakable together. We deserve dignified pay, treatment and due recognition,” he concluded.