Nurses who are on strike over unpaid allowances have accused the Ministry of Health of “unfair treatment” as they outlined their problems.

Speaking to journalists in Banjul, Ousman Touray secretary general of the National Association of Gambian Nurses & Midwives said: “Nurses are overworked, they are underpaid, they are under-protected against infections, they are under-protected against working colleagues, [and] they are under-protected against even the public. 

“When there is an issue between nurses and other colleagues against nurses, there is never justice, equity or equality [in] the ways we are treated in the health sector. 

“The disparities are too huge, they are not only about finances, but even the way we are treated and respected in the health sector.”

Mr Touray explained that “the remuneration of nurses, a nurse in Senegal can pay a nurse in the Gambia three times or more, a nurse in Ghana can pay a nurse in the Gambia three times or more, a nurse in Zambia and Malawi can pay a nurse in the Gambia three times or more. 

“I am not just giving you baseless facts; I have been to some of these countries and I have friends in some of these countries through some international linkages I have with them and I inquired and to know them. 

“My recent inquiry was Malawi and in Malawian currency, their 400, 000 is equivalent to 30. 000 Gambian dalasi which can pay more than three nurses in the Gambia,” he added.

“Nursing is driven by passion in this country, not money; all that nurses are asking for is the minimum- to put food on the table, provide shelter and live a minimum dignified life. 

“This is what we are asking for. But it will be sad to know that nurses live from paycheque to paycheque in this country. We struggle every day without basic needs and the needs of our families, even if you have a family of just three; this is the truth, because of the payment conditions of nurses in this country. 

“Nurses work for more than 12 to 18 hours of their lives and spend 4 hours sleeping and 3 hours for their families. This is the reality,” he said.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba 

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