By Ramatoulie Jawo
Association of Public and Environmental Health Officers, The Gambia (APEHOG) on Monday appeared before the National Assembly Select Committee on Health, Disaster, Humanitarian Relief and Refugees.
The association was at the Parliament to discuss the suspension of 371 of its members.
Nuha Fofana, President of APEHOG said the association embarked on a sit-down strike as a result of the unpaid allowances to its members.
He added that following a change of cabinet, the association wrote to the current Secretary General on 17th May 2022 requesting a meeting to discuss the allowance status, but they did not receive any response.
APEHOG President said according to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry Of Health their suspension was as a result of their non-compliance to resume duties after a long period of “unauthorized absence”.
Fofana continued that they were not informed of their suspension; but they only saw it all over the social media and that was why they asked their members to continue working while they make consultations.
“We tried to make consultation because we did not have any legal person in our association. But after our consultation with people, then we ask our members to stop work and abide by the suspension,” he said.
The association president said they were asked to write an apology letter to the Permanent Secretary because the authorities were not happy with some of the words the association used in their letters.
“We wrote the apology letter thinking the suspension will be rescinded but we do not still receive a reply from them,” he added.
The chairman of the committee, Honourable Amadou Camara told the Public and Environmental Health Association that the committee would reach out to the Ministry Of Health for its side of the story for solutions.
“The committee is here for everybody. We will make sure we call on the Ministry too, to hear their side of the story and look for solutions,” he said.
Honourable Modou Lamin Bah, Vice Chair of the committee said a few days back, he took his child to the Poly Clinic and the person he found at one of the departments said he his a volunteer, which he (Bah) described as a surprise to him.
“I can tell you a problem that is not solved is still a problem. But a problem that is solved is no more a problem. We should solve this problem to end everything,” he said.
Honourable Gabriel Mballow, a member of the committee said there is a communication gab in the issue which is affecting a lot of vulnerable children in the country.
“I will take an example in my own constituency. There were a lot of children who did not take a particular vaccine because of the strike, which is not fare to them,” he said.