Congolese doctors suspended a two week strike over better pay in public hospitals on Wednesday (September 06), the main medical union has said.
SYNAMED, Congo’s main doctors union said the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government had agreed to their demands for a salary increase.
Currently, Congo’s doctors working in public hospitals earn about 350 USD a month, and want their pay increased to 1,000 USD a month, to help them adjust to the high rate of inflation.
“The representatives of the medical union SYNAMED signed with government representatives and it’s stipulated in the agreement that the Congolese government will reinstate the doctor’s rights and act on their grievances,” said SYNAMED Secretary General, Juvenal Muanda.
The representatives of the medical union SYNAMED signed with government representatives and it's stipulated in the agreement that the Congolese government will reinstate the doctor's rights and act on their grievances.
The strike has caused havoc in public hospitals, where beds remained empty and patients were left to care for themselves.
“I didn’t know that doctors were on strike. I was brought here by people when I was involved in an accident. I have only seen one doctor once since I came here, he registered my ID and medical details then he left. It’s been five days since I came here and I don’t know what to do,” said Paul Shinakusa, a patient admitted at the Kinshasa hospital.
According to SYNAMED, around 35,000 doctors across the country have not reciced salaries in the last year.
Congo’s is currently facing an economic crisis; with inflation now at 50 percent, while the Congolese franc has lost 30 percent making it one of the world’s worst performers this year.
In addition, the central bank is so low on forex it has barely three weeks of import cover left.
The government forecasts 2017 GDP growth at 3.1 percent, up from 2.4 percent last year. Standard & Poor’s sees GDP growth this year at 1.5 percent.
Analysts say they are sceptical the government will be able to meet the doctors salary increase demands, given the current economic situation.
“Given the current economic and social political challenges that the country faces at the moment, the government will not be able to meet the doctors demands, even if angles were to come to earth, especially seeing the budgetary issues we face. But what is the solution? The solution is to negotiate and explain clearly to civil servants the current budgetary constraints the government is facing,” said economic analyst Jerome Sekana.
The government said it will implement the doctors salary increase in January, to include it in its 2018 budget.
Three quarters of Congo’s budget pays civil servant salaries and government operating expenses. Labour unions have launched strikes in recent weeks to demand pay rises.