“We are downing tools until the matter is investigated” Junior doctors
By Alpha Kamara in New York
Two women were abused this week by police and government officials in Freetown. First was Fatmata Binta Bah a university student of the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM). Her video went viral as members of the Sierra Leone police were filmed beating and dragging her during a student protest inside the campus.
Sources said students protested because their names were omitted from the list of grandaunts published by the university without any explanation. “We protested because our names were left out of the graduation list without explanation. But the police treated us like criminals and used tear gas and batons on us. They beat me up and stripped me half naked. They later arrested and detained me for hours before I was released”, Binta Bah said.
The next day, Dr. Catherine Jackson Cole, a medical doctor attached at the main Connaught hospital said she was assaulted by top government officials for attempting to use her phone to record a video that showed the messy state of the hospital after cleaners stopped cleaning for failing to pay them their salaries for almost a year. On a video interview, Dr. Cole said she was assaulted by the government officials and his aides while she was recording the status of the hospital. “The permanent secretary and his aides pushed me and ordered me to stop recording. I sustained some injuries in the process. I asked myself why should men in position of authority act like that in this 21st century?”, Dr. Cole said.
Meanwhile, the incident has sparked a nationwide protest from the Junior Doctors Association in Sierra Leone (JUDASIL). In a press statement, the association said it was informed of the unfortunate incident of physical assault of one of its female members by the permanent secretary and the chief medical officer of the health ministry.
“This event is frustrating and shows the continuous disrespect by the officials towards the practitioners across the country. The said member assaulted is a dedicated member in discussing matters concerning healthcare in the country. The executive and its members are requesting for the immediate resignation of the PS, CMO and the Deputy Health Minister because we don’t feel safe working with officials who violate fundamental human rights”.
The release ends that with immediate effect, the Junior Doctors will be laying down tools across the country until the matter is looked into and appropriate action is taken. However, a press release from the health ministry said all is well and staff should go about their normal businesses.