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Bridging the gap between Hazard pay & hazard pay

By Kristof Decoster
on October 16, 2014

If you follow a bit the debate on hazard pay   for medical staff in Liberia, with a monthly hazard pay of less than $ 500 dollar for nurses (which has obviously led to calls for a strike), and contrast this with the (recently boosted) weekly salary of Eden Hazard, Chelsea football player (now 240 000 Euro), you know the world has gone mad.

(Disclosure: When my boss asked a few days ago who among us would be willing to go to one of these three countries in Western Africa, for Ebola related research, I was less ‘gung ho’ than my colleagues to volunteer, to put it mildly.)

Hazard is a brilliant football player, and a no-nonsense guy as well with whom I share a love for hamburgers. But there’s no way football health “hazards” match those faced by health providers in Western Africa for the moment. Eden is not even a Formula 1 driver or a professional boxer – and even they are far better protected than most of the health care providers in Ebola affected countries, as well as more than handsomely paid. But apparently, these are the ways of the global market. The emptiness of our socio-economic system has seldom been as obvious.

It’s quite striking that our world, normally so keen to spot ‘moral hazard’, in order to impose trojka-style policies on desperate populations in Southern Europe, closes its eyes to this ridiculous gap between the winners of globalization and the ones who are trying to cope with some of the more worrying aspects of globalization and interdependence, in order to protect their compatriots as well as all of us. The world still tries to deal with Ebola ‘on a shoestring’ – if I may borrow a phrase from the travel guide I used a long time ago. Stinginess won’t work. Not this time.

So Jim Kim, reach out to Eden Hazard and other football stars (especially, but not only, African football stars), and connect the dots. If the World Bank indeed wants to play a key role in the Ebola response, and is in favour of results-based financing in general and loves to talk about incentives and performance based pay, then make clear that the winners of globalization should help pay for the enormous risks now run by health providers in Ebola affected countries. Let this be an essential part of the WB discourse on the Ebola response too. It’s not just countries or philantropists that should come up with resources. I know the WB and others are already making the case for more hazard pay, and are even paying for it, but link this with a contribution by the winners of globalization and you’ll see public opinion will nod, all over the world. It’s just common sense.

I’m sure Eden Hazard will be open to the idea – and if not, his smartass coach, José Mourinho, could have a friendly chat with him, as well as some of the Belgian football bigwigs (who know all about money and performance based pay, apparently).

Eden will soon enough understand that the gap between hazard pay & Hazard pay is just ‘too big to be fair’…

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