Hospital workers in Cameroon have gone on strike in protest at ‘unbearable’ working conditions. Their demands include state-of-the art medical equipment, more drugs to treat patients and action against corruption. A toddler is weeping in her bed in the emergency ward at Yaounde University Hospital, but there are no medical personnel in sight. The child’s father Odiobo Alain told DW his daughter has been crying for hours, but none of the nurses have attended to her. But Alain’s troubles don’t end there. His ailing 72-year-old grandmother is in the same hospital and no doctor has been to see her either.
The patients are being neglected, said Alain. “All the workers of the hospital, like nurses and some doctors, are spending time at their computers. They are refusing to treat patients, which should not happen especially if a patient is dying. The government should do something quickly,” he said.
Cameroon’s hospital staff say there are withholding their labor until their demands are met. Awono Essomba Luc heads Cameroon’s National Union of Health Workers, which called the strike. He doesn’t mince words over the dilapidated state of Cameroon’s hospitals. “Imagine a patient coming to hospital to get his health back and then finding himself in a stinking environment,” he said.
Luc is not only complaining about poor hygiene, but about medical equipment broken beyond repair and the hospital management. “It seems that instead of taking care of patients, the general manager rather takes care of money,” he said. On the premises of Yaounde University Hospital, the beat of drums can be heard in the background. This is deliberate and part of the hospital staff’s protest. It tells all who enter the premises that something is seriously wrong with this hospital.