The Union of doctors in Cameroon (Symec – Syndicat des Médecins du Cameroon) issued a call for strike which starts from Monday 17 April. This general protest is, in principle, for all health personnel whose majority takes offense with regards to the poor working conditions and salaries. But upon further observation, it is a two-speed strike which is going on. “We are meeting. We are working”, informs succinctly Dr Jean Louis Bitang, Director of the Emergency Centre of Yaoundé. Public hospitals seem to have broken away from the strike action proscribing health workers from taking new appointments.
In Douala, service is as usual in Laquintinie hospital, one of the most attended in the city. Especially as in a press release, the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda, made Symec illegal. Which the union protests, with documents. That being said, some hospitals followed the call to strike. “Regional hospitals in Bamenda, North-West region, Yagoua and Maroua in the Far North and Akono, in the Central region, where I myself serve, all followed the strike action”, declares Dr Patrick Ndoudoumou, General Secretary of Symec.
As a reminder, in Bamenda, this strike coincides with “Black Day”, launched months ago by the consortium of Anglophone nationals. “Old doctors who have good positions and benefits do not want to tale part in this strike, laments a doctor who asked to remain anonymous. However, everyone must pitch in for the situation to change. Imagine this: I am nearing retirement and I only have a salary of FCfa 350,000 after so many years of study and work!”, complains our source. He maintains that the government should take the ire of doctors, “even if there are only 10 of them”, very seriously. “This is a critical sector for society at large”, reminds this general practitioner.
Monique Ngo Mayag