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MEASLES: Over 120 Children Die As Health Workers Strike, Tshisekedi’s Govt Watches On

A total of 122 children in Kwilu Province, western DR Congo, have died from measles as the outbreak of the diseases rages on with health workers in the territory currently on strike demanding for better working conditions.

Nearly 6500 children have been affected by the disease just four of Kwilu’s sixteen health zones.

In the latest alert report of the expanded immunization programme, children under the age of five are the most affected between January and July with 108 deaths recorded from an estimated number of 4,550 children affected.

The measles outbreak calls for rapid and stringent action from health authorities in order to contain the situation to avoid a further rise in the death toll but it is currently impossible as health workers are currently on a go slow.

Nurses and administrative health workers have go on a strike demanding for payment of their salary arrears for the first two quarters, risk allowances as well as recruitment of new workers to join the overwhelmed workforce.

However, the DRC government has currently made no effort to meet the health workers union to discuss the way forward.

“It’s a problem. Our employees are on strike but the national and provincial governments are not folding their arms to negotiate with the trade unionists. So there is a bit of negotiation that has already begun,” said Dr. Steve Matoma, coordinating physician of the expanded immunization programme.

The expanded immunization programme had been initially scheduled to kick-off on 25th September but has been met with a major obstacle in the health workers’ continued strike.

The programme remains in major doubt with the health workers insisting they will not resume work until their demands are met.

“When it comes to vaccination, we non-medical health professionals are on strike. Vaccination is not about us. We are waiting until we lift the strike or our hierarchy will suspend the strike,” said Kim Wenge, a trade unionist with the National Union of Nurses of Congo/Kikwit.

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