EBOLA CRISIS: Doctors threaten to STRIKE in DR Congo after coming under violent attack

Medics have repeatedly come under attack from armed militiamen who reportedly believe Ebola is a conspiracy against them. The health workers, who are trying to fight the DRC’s second deadliest outbreak of the killer virus, have warned they will walk out indefinitely as early as next week if they continue to be attacked. Doctors are calling for authorities to do more to protect them.

The threats come after a Cameroon medic was killed last week while working in the east of the DRC.

Dr Richard Valery Mouzoko Kibooung, an epidemiologist deployed by the World Health Organisation, was shot while working at Butembo University Hospital.

His killing has proved a tipping point, and on Wednesday dozens of Congolese doctors and nurses marched through Butembo’s streets, carrying a banner reading “Ebola exists” to register their outrage.

They then presented a memorandum to Butembo’s mayor, Sylvain Kanyamanda, outlining their demand for greater security - and their threat to strike.

Mr Kanyamanda responded, saying he understood why health workers are frustrated and added the government will respond to their demands.

No further details have been given.

Dr Kalmia Nzanzu, the head of the medical associated for Butembo, says they are not calling for specific security measures.

He said: “It is the mayor’s job to determine how to keep us safe.”

But unless they see a reduction in the intimidation and assaults on medical workers within the next week, he warns “we will strike”.

The strike would have serious implications for the millions of people who live in the area, which has been most affected by the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

The medics who are threatening the strike action are needed to administer vaccinations and other key activities, to prevent a surge in infections.

More than 1,300 people have become infected with the virus since last August.

Jessica Ilunga, a spokeswoman for Congo’s Ministry of Health, expressed solidarity with the health workers.

She said: “[Our] position is to respect their decision.

“We know they are risking their lives just for doing their job.

“We will not force any of our staff to work if they don’t feel safe.”

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