Bissau – Striking medical workers in Guinea-Bissau have paralysed hospitals, officials said on Wednesday, with the government in the West African state deploying army medics as a stopgap.
Nurses and healthcare technicians launched an “indefinite boycott” on Tuesday to demand payment of overtime, better equipment and hazard bonuses for workers on Covid-19 wards.
On Wednesday, most hospitals and clinics in the capital Bissau were either closed or operating at reduced capacity, city residents said.
An official at Simao Mendes hospital in Bissau – the country’s largest – also said that the government had deployed army medics to keep it running.
Felipe Cafe Mbatche, a health technician and Simao Mendes union spokesman, said that eight heads of department had quit on Tuesday, for unspecified reasons.
He added that problems facing nurses and health technicians were shared across the medical sector in Guinea-Bissau.
“It’s a long-term problem,” he said, pointing to a lack of overtime pay, among other issues.
Guinea-Bissau is one of the world’s most impoverished countries and suffers poor healthcare services as well as chronic political instability.
Health officials in the nation of two million people, who are already combatting Covid-19, also see spikes of malaria and flu cases during the rainy season – which is ongoing.
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