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Health Workers Re-strategise Nationwide Strike 

By Walter Wilson Nana, *Cyrilla Nike Ngwa & Hassan Check

The 2 481 health workers recruited under the HIPC and French Fund for Development, C2D Projects in 2007 and posted to various departments in the Ministry of Public Health across the ten regions have withdrawn to re-strategise their sit-in and hunger strike actions.

Nurses picket at the Delegation of Public Health

From a memo addressed to the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, the irate workers noted that their strike actions would begin Monday, July 4 and end Wednesday, July 6. From there, they would evaluate their actions and strategise for subsequent action. This initial view was reiterated by the Southwest Regional Focal Point Coordinator for the striking workers, Mrs. Nicholine Eyong Ebote of the Southwest Regional Delegation of Public Health.

"At day three of the strike actions, we’ve done our best. We have received echoes from the other nine regions of the country that the strike actions are ongoing. In Cameroon, everything is slow. If you don’t make noise, nobody will listen to you. We will get back to ourselves and look forward to any reactions from the hierarchy and define our next strategy.

Officially, we have not heard any statement from them," said Eyong Ebote. A weary looking Eyong Ebote said their major worry now is their 23 months of salary that have not been paid, including the month of June 2011. "The integration in to public service is on hold, now we need the 23-month-salary to feed our families," she added.

According to Eyong Ebote, if nothing is done to take them out of their dire situation, they will begin serial strike actions in August 1 2011."Now, we have been peaceful, sitting-in, if the authorities fail to listen to us, then we will change strategy for a lethal manner. After all, we are a dead people and we are no longer afraid of the coffin. Living for 23 months without a salary is enough to kill one," she thundered.

On what has been the reaction from the Southwest Regional Delegate of Public Health, Dr. John Chuwanga, Eyong said; "The problem is not at his level. It is not even at the level of the Ministry of Public Health.

The worry is at the Ministry of Public Service, which had an accord from the Presidency to recruit 2481 people into the Ministry of Public Health, beginning from 1,500 and another additional 981 that the Ministry of Public Health proposed. Now, the integration is not coming as expected. So, we wish that all of us are integrated and our 23 months’ salary paid."

Eyong said the angry 150 striking health workers in the Southwest Region are saddened with the nonchalant attitude of Southwest Governor, Koumpa Issa, towards their plight. "We have written two letters to his office and no comment has been made about them. We have written a letter of advocacy to the Presidency via the Governor of the Southwest Region to the Minister of Public Health for onward transmission, no reaction has come to us.

We have reports from the other regions of the country that their various Governors have been talking to them, that of the Southwest is mute. He feels that our problem is a non-issue to him," she said. From the Kumba Health District, Williams Abwa expressed disgust with the Government.

"Why should Government always be pressurised for it to do something for citizens? We have worked for 23 months, we must be paid. We have served Cameroonians, we need our dues. After three days of hanging out in the rains and scorching sun, let the authorities come and tell us something soothing to our souls and what to do," he said.

From Bamenda, 60 nurses, some pregnant, have been sitting in front of the Regional Delegation of Public Health carrying placards some of which read; "Enough Is Enough, We Have Big Certificates Yet No Money To Feed Our Families," "There Is No Top Government Official Who Can Stay For A Month Without His Salary, Let Ours Be Paid". "No Salary, No Work, We Need All the 2007 HIPC Money Now, Without Salaries, We Cannot Pay Our Rents".

One of the striking nurses, who opted for anonymity said; "we don’t need the Regional Delegate of Public Health’s address or that of the Governor and even the Minister of Public Health. Only the Head of State can sign for our integration into the Public Service. Even if the Regional Delegate says anything, it’s of no use."

The striking health workers in Bamenda said on June 6, 2011, one of their colleagues, Fidelis Chi, died, suggestively, due to the absence of financial resources to cater for him.
*(National Polytechnic Bambui Students On Internship)

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