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COVID-19: Government Approves Healthcare Workers Compensation package

The government of Sierra Leone through the ministry of finance after meeting with medical doctors in Sierra Leone is set to provide over 100% of the COVID-19 compensation package demanded by medical doctors in Sierra Leone.

According to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa, the government will provide 105% of the demands made by the medical personnel in Sierra Leone. He made this statement on Tuesday 21st April 202 whiles signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone with the Sierra Leone Nurse Association (SLNA), Sierra Leone Association of Community Health Officers (SLACHO), and the Pharmaceutical Society of Sierra Leone.

With the MoU, Doctors, Nurses, CHOs, Pharmacists that are working in Treatment Centers, Isolation Centers, and Laboratories are entitled to weekly Allowances of Le 1,000,000 each for twelve weeks commencing 1st April 2020, subject to review as may be necessary, whiles cleaners and drivers are getting Le 500,000 with similar conditions. This is in line with the recommendation made by the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) of Le 1,000,000 weekly allowance.

“Healthcare workers shall be provided with a cash risk allowance instead of their P.A.Y.E. (Pay As You Earn) tax deductions for three (3) months commencing 1st April 2020, subject to review as may be necessary,”  THE Minister said. This he says is in line with the SLMDA request for an exemption of P.A.Y.E. tax for three months.

According to the Minister, Tax exemption can only be granted by parliament, but as a responsible government, they have decided to provide a cash risk allowance instead of their P.A.Y.E.

The Government will also provide food compensation of Le 60,000 for staff in treatment centers, Isolation centers, and Laboratory for 84 days.

“In addition to a life insurance policy encompassing payment to next-of-kin, Government shall provide free tuition and other forms of educational support for a maximum of three (3) children, up to 1st-degree level, for any healthcare worker who loses his/her life in the discharge of their duties in the combating and treatment of persons infected with COVID-19,” he said.

The Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr. Alpha T. Wurie said that the Government is desirous to ensure that frontline health workers are provided with the required incentives to facilitate their efforts and activities in the treatment and medical care of persons with the disease.

However, the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) did not show up for the signing of the MoU. The Finance Ministers stated that in a meeting held on Monday 20th April 2020 at the Treasury Building, all parties consented to the MoU and promised to avail themselves for the signing on Tuesday afternoon, but representatives of SLMDA didn’t show up.

The representatives of the Sierra Leone Nurse Association (SLNA), Sierra Leone Association of Community Health Officers (SLACHO), and the Pharmaceutical Society of Sierra Leone commended the government for the motivation provided and expressed their commitment to the fight against COVID-19.

Secretary-General of SLNA Mr. Haurace Nyandamoh expressed frustration concerning the attitude of SLMDA, noting that they (SLMDA) are pushing for different MoU from what they agreed in the negotiation process.

“If the government goes ahead and signs another MoU that is different from other healthcare workers, we will talk to our membership to the down tool. Nurses comprise about 75 percent of the healthcare workforce and our job is riskier at this period,” he said.

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