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Cameroon doctor strike leaves patients unseen amid political crisis

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – A doctors’ strike in Cameroon left patients without critical care in the capital Yaoude on Monday, the latest in a string of union actions that have crippled a country in the midst of political crisis.

The doctors union, known as SYMEC, demanded better working conditions and pay and left nurses to attend to sick patients in some of Yaounde’s major hospitals.

The strike was not directly linked to other union action, but it adds to the turmoil in the central African country where protests have erupted since October in the Anglophone south- and northwest regions.

Teachers and lawyers have been on strike for months to protest at what they say is their marginalization by the French-speaking majority under President Paul Biya’s 35-year rule. In reaction, the government has shut down the internet in English-speaking areas.

At Yaounde’s Central Hospital on Monday, patients angrily waited to be seen, clutching prescriptions and test results, but there were no doctors in sight, a Reuters witness said.

“My father had a motorcycle accident and must undergo surgery today. But there are no surgeons, we are told that there is a strike, and the nurse told us that they only deal with the sick in-house or by appointment,” said Marianne Balla, who was waiting in the Central Hospital.

The government said the strike was illegal as SYMEC is not a legally recognized union, a charge SYMEC dismissed as untrue.

It was not clear how well observed the strike was in other parts of the country. Some hospitals contacted by Reuters outside the capital said by telephone that they were operating normally.

The strike comes at a critical time for Biya, who is under pressure to peacefully resolve a growing crisis.

At least six protesters have been shot dead and hundreds others arrested during the rare challenge to state authority ahead of a presidential election next year.

In an apparent bid to stamp out online critics, the government has cut internet access in the two English-speaking regions for three months, hobbling business activity and prompting criticism from human rights groups and the United Nations.

Still, with Biya looking to extend his long rule next year, some expect government crackdowns to continue.

“With elections coming up next year, we can expect the situation to get much worse before it gets better,” said Jeffrey Smith from campaign group Vanguard Africa.

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11 comments

  1. For ever young Reserved

    As humans honestly feel sorry for the patients who are going to suffering because of the strike, dis regime is a cancerous cell too all Cameroonian i wonder why the others regions ar waiting to join the revolution instead of suffering & dead in silence & the despotic wicked greedy king / regime lavished in luxurious lifestyle spending millions of dollars in five star hotel / getting quality & expensive treatment in European hospital & neglect his own country

  2. If people post something that is against your thinking, why blocking it? Freedom of speech here you don’t even respect it. You want us to sing praises to the god of etoudi? Or are you his creature too?you tell us . What kind of journalism are you trying to display here? A selective one? People liked here before because they were free to speak their mind but now it is contrary. You hold off people comments and select what to release. Is that journalism?I doubt it because if I can’t speak my mind I won’t say I am free. And if you are working for biya regime now just say.

    • The reason why participation rate in this forum has drastically dropped.If there was clear censorship. ..pictures of indomitable lions in bamenda with coconut trees in the street won’t have been published in this forum .was fake yet published

    • I don’t even like visiting this website anymore because I feel like the use the typical Biya’s strategy to stop any one that criticizes what they put up. Typical Cameroon attitude which does not happen on other websites. When are we going to learn in Africa that there’s freedom of expression. I was believe journalist or news media should be the number one people promoting freedom of expression but unfortunately it is not the case here. I do not see how holding people’s comments is promoting freedom of expression. If you want to do journalism, then you need to embrace freedom of expression.

      • Countryman @ where exactly is free speech ?
        Look deeply into what can and has been said on this forum and its alot more than what is achived in many international supposedly free speech news outlets,catering for other so called free countries .
        Kudos for this website ,rephrase your comments please ,if you need , until it can be accepted ,its the least you can do .The website controller has a responsibility in keeping what they have achived up to now and frankly we have to respect this .by making an effort in what we write .

    • You all are missing the main point. There was too much hate among ourselves at one point here. Too many abuses and disrespectful comments geared at peers. That is exactly what the administrator could stand no more. Me too, and I believe many others here. Freedom of expression does not mean abuse others. Many people do not comment here like before but a good number still glance through various articles.

  3. they should have been striking for a long time, some of these pathetic doctors with their eyes closed have been pleasing the failed dictator regime for many years, they have been working in very badly equipped hospitals for many years without being able to cure the simplest of illness,the arrogance, incompetent minister of health just like all of the others travel abroad for medical conditions therefore pay no attention to the country’s overall healthcare decay, without all the Faith hospitals opened in the regions, there would have been no government curable hospital in Cameroon, shameful!

    • My friend, we are talking of a very corrupt people here. Although they may have genuine reasons for going on strike, I wonder how long they are going to hold on the strike. Pretty soon, the mouth of the organisers will be rubbed with oil, since they cannot resist the corruption of the Biya’s regime and you will hear that they have called off the strike even when none of their grievances have been addressed.
      It could as well be a staged distraction by the corrupt LRC regime to turn attentions away from the real problems plaguing the Southern Cameroons. It will not be too long and the truth wil

  4. Now the stage is open for our Anglo doctors to join the union of strikers
    for change to come.
    Everyone should look for an opening, to join this revolution, so we can
    be free from the LRC BONDAGE.
    No other time fits than now. The time to fear, is over.