Government Addresses Public Health Workers’ Salary Disparity

Robert Serge Saint-Pé

Monrovia, Liberia: In a significant milestone for public healthcare workers, the Government of Liberia, through the Civil Service Agency (CSA), the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), and a team of health practitioners came together in a signing ceremony on Friday, October 20, 2023, to address the long-standing issue of salary disparity within the public health sector.

The salary equity project came to fruition through an agreement between the MoH and the Gurus Human Resource Consultancy Group, which was hired to work with the MOH, CSA, and all the cadres of health workers. Gurus Consultancy worked with the cadres of health workers over the last months to do job evaluation, competency mapping, review payroll, and find a collaborative solution to the internal salary disparity issues that have existed in government for decades. These terms of the agreement provide a comprehensive review of pay disparity for healthcare professionals, with the goal of establishing competitiveness and equity in fair compensation packages amongst health workers with the same degree.

Serving as the plenary person during the event, the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhemina S. Jallah, expressed her optimism about the newfound cooperation between the MoH and the CSA. She emphasized that this agreement would lead to a more equitable and competitive compensation structure for healthcare professionals, which, in turn, would enhance the quality of healthcare services available to Liberians.

Representing the Director-General of the CSA, the Deputy Director-General for Human Resource Management and Policy of the CSA, Hon. Onikeh Smythe-Jackson, echoed the minister’s sentiment, emphasizing the importance of creating a more attractive environment for civil servants and a manageable pay structure system for all cadres of healthcare workers.

Under these new policies, the CSA, MoH, and MFDP will work closely with relevant public healthcare associations to ensure the end of high disproportionate pay levels between and amongst various cadres of public healthcare workers. It will also recruit healthcare workers based on both their need and their ability to pay better living wages to strengthen the quality and motivation of all healthcare workers in the public service.

The agreement will be adopted into the civil service system and implemented to ensure there is transparency in pay across the sector. These policies are expected to enhance the motivation and job satisfaction of healthcare professionals and improve service delivery and quality care in the health sector.

 The signing ceremony received widespread acclaim from healthcare professionals, who see this as a crucial step towards reducing pay disparity among various cadres of headworkers, improving working conditions, and retaining talents within the public healthcare sector. Representatives from healthcare associations, including the Liberia National Physician Assistants Association (LNPAA), the Liberia Nurses Association (LNA), the Liberia Pharmacists Board (LPB), the Liberia Midwives Association (LMA), and the Liberia Association of Medical Laboratory Technology (LAMLP), among others, expressed their gratitude for the government’s willingness to address this long-standing issue.

In attendance were high-ranking government officials, representatives of medical practitioners, Gurus HR Consultancy Group, and key stakeholders. As a collaborative initiative, the ceremonial event has been hailed as a major step toward ensuring equal pay for equal work for healthcare workers, who have been grappling with pay discrepancies over the last decades.

Lack of pay equity has been a persistent concern over the years, leading to go-slows by associations of health workers. The long-standing pay inequity issues also affected the morale and retention of skilled health workers in Liberia, resulting in many healthcare workers abandoning their jobs or leaving their positions in search of better opportunities, thereby causing understaffing and reducing service quality in public healthcare facilities.

The signed assignment serves as a quest for equity and quality in the public health sector and presents itself as an historic moment, not only signifying a more prosperous future for the nation’s dedicated public health workers but also reflecting a government that is responsive to the needs of its citizens.

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