One week into a nationwide strike, the union of state doctors in Cote d’Ivoire has again rebuffed a call by the heath ministry to reinstate at least minimum services.
“Doctors must realise that they took an oath and they have the responsibility to provide minimum care,” Minister of Public Health and Hygiene Allah Kouadio Remi said in a declaration on state television on 11 September.
“This is utter anguish,” the minister said of the strike, in which people in ambulances have been turned away from hospitals, others dying on stretchers with no medical workers in sight. “It is inconceivable – unimaginable.”
But on the same day, Amichia Magloire, secretary general of the national union of senior health executives (SYNACASS-CI) told the Ivorian press that after a meeting on 11 September the union had decided “to pursue the strike without minimum services…until its demands are satisfied.”
The Ivorian minister of public service, Hubert Oulaye, warned that those who do not resume work on Wednesday morning (12 September) will have their pay stopped this month. “You must not continue to play with the lives of the citizens,” he said on state television.
On 5 September SYNACASS-CI launched the second strike in two months over pay scales, benefits and other grievances with the government. But unlike the work stoppage in August, this time health workers are refusing to provide even minimum services.
Ivorian newspapers on 12 September carried banner headlines about the absence of state doctors: ‘Ivorians are in mortal danger’, ‘Doctors snub government’s appeal’ and ‘The moment is critical in hospitals’.