Frontline health workers have issued an ultimatum to the Ministry of Health as they plan to stage a sit-down strike.

The health workers comprising of staff working under the Covid 19 Rapid Response Team, Contact Tracing, Laboratory Services and the Quarantine Centre are demanding better pay and working conditions.

The frontline workers are demanding a daily allowances of D750 to be paid, dating back from January 2020 when the Covid 19 campaign started. 

They also among others are asking for their health insurance, accommodation and allowances to be paid by the Health Ministry. 

The group convened a press briefing at the Central Medical Stores yesterday. They have given the senior management of the Ministry of Health July 9 to address their demands or else they will decide on a strike action.

Seyfo Singhatey of the Covid 19 Response Team said feeding and accommodation are among their major concerns.

He said the death of one their colleagues, the midwife Maw Ceesay, triggered the quest for them to have health insurance in case of any death among them, for their families to benefit.

Mr Singhatey said if their concerns are not addressed, “it will just be like soldiers that lay down their weapons in a battle field, and allow their opponents to invade.”

Madam Fatou Jah said they have been channelling their concerns through the top Senior Management of the Health Ministry “to ensure efficient service delivery, but they just have been receiving mere promises, and nothing much has been done.”

She said earlier this month they had a meeting with the Permanent Secretary, but their situation remains the same.

She said among others that health insurance, feeding, accommodations and allowances for frontliners “should be provided, and must not be compromised, and are non-negotiation.”

Ms Jah said since the beginning of the Covid 19 campaign frontline workers have received only D5000 from the Health Ministry. 

She said they made inquiries, but has not got what they wanted regarding allowances from their Senior Management Team.

She said if the Ministry does not respond to their demands until 9 July they will reconvene another meeting to decide appropriate action.

Musa Nget from the Covid 19 Response Team also called on the Health ministry to respond to their demands or else they will “lay down their Covid 19 materials and concentrate on their normal health duties.”

The Gambia has seen a rise in coronavirus cases and last Sunday recorded its first coronavirus death among frontline health workers. The country’s total coronavirus cases is 63. 

Reporting by Madi Njie and Adama Makasuba 

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