COVID-19 patients stranded in Sierra Leone after doctors’ strike

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Doctors treating COVID-19 patients in Sierra Leone went on strike on Thursday over unpaid bonuses. /REUTERS

Doctors treating COVID-19 patients in Sierra Leone went on strike on Thursday over unpaid bonuses, leaving patients in some of the main treatment centres without care, health-workers said.

Hawanatu Conteh, a nurse at Connaught Hospital, tends to a patient while the hospital’s doctors strike over pay and conditions, in Freetown, Sierra Leone December 4, 2018./ REUTERS

The strike marks an escalation in a row between doctors and government over what doctors say is a misuse of funds for the coronavirus response in the small West African country, and a lack of protection and compensation for health-workers.

Doctors say that they were promised hazard pay for their work during the pandemic, but that the pay has not come.

Government officials could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the coronavirus response team previously told Reuters the government was carrying out an audit of health workers to verify who was directly involved in the response.

Since the disease began, around 20 percent of Sierra Leone’s total coronavirus expenditure, or nearly $850,000, went to procuring 30 new SUVs and 230 motorbikes for the Emergency Operations Center, Office of National Security, police force, and military, according to procurement reports released by Sierra Leone’s finance ministry on May 22.

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