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Health professionals threaten strike

by Sunday Express
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  • as they demand 30 percent coronavirus risk allowance and protective clothing

Pascalinah Kabi  |  Limpho Sello

DOCTORS, nurses and other health workers have given the Thomas Thabane regime until Friday to pay them risk allowances and give them protective clothing for their work against the deadly coronavirus, failing which they could go on strike.

The doctors and nurses were joined by anaesthetists, laboratory scientists, pharmacists and technicians and nursing assistants in issuing the demands on Friday.

In a statement to the Sunday Express yesterday, the coalition’s secretary, Mamonica Mokhesi Makhozonke, said “if we are not protected as we deliver health care services, we shall be forced to protect ourselves.”

Although she would not be drawn to elaborate, some sources within the health sector said they would protect themselves by withdrawing their services and going on strike.

The professionals want the risk allowance calculated at 30 percent of their gross salaries. They argue that they should be given the allowance and protective gear because they work around the clock with patients and therefore have higher chances of contracting the deadly virus also known COVID-19.

Their Friday ultimatum came just two days after Dr Thabane announced a nationwide lockdown as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The health workers have styled themselves the Coalition of Health Professionals in Lesotho.  Ms Makhozonke said as front liners in the provision of healthcare, health professionals were at risk of acquiring and transmitting COVID-19 as they spent 24 hours a day with patients.

“During this time that the Prime Minister of Lesotho has declared a national lockdown, health professionals will continue to work to save the lives of Basotho hence this renders them more vulnerable to the disease.

“It is against this background that the Coalition of Health Professionals urges the Lesotho government and other stakeholders in the health sector to put measures in place to protect its health workers and the Basotho at large,” Ms Makhozonke said.

The health workers also demanded that the government capacitates them on the virus through trainings and provision of equipment, their inclusion in trainings of communities and their involvement in decision-making.

“We strongly condemn situations whereby decisions are made for health care professionals without their involvement,” Ms Makhozonke said.

She said the health workers met officials at the Ministry of Health on Friday to formally request a 30 percent risk allowance for each of the health workers and that Deputy Minister of Health, ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli, attended the meeting.

Ms Phohleli’s phone rang unanswered when this publication called her for comment yesterday.

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