Unpaid Congolese Health Workers Demand Wages as Ebola Cases Rise

August 21, 2020

The latest Ebola outbreak in western Democratic Republic of Congo has led to at least 100 cases as of Friday, according to WHO.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the emerging Ebola outbreak in western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has infected 100 people as of August 21, 2020. Of these 100 people, at least 43 have passed.

Health care workers in Mbandaka went on strike recently, even taking control of access to testing laboratories for several days, in protest over allegedly unpaid salaries and low pay scales.

The strike ended early this week, for now, as the demands compelled the DRC government to investigate.

The country's 11th Ebola outbreak was declared on June 1 in the city, just as the previous outbreak in the Kivu area slowed.

Mbandaka is located on the River Congo. It is a city that has faced outbreaks before, but the virus has spread to rural villages throughout the greater province of Équateur.

Access to villages can be difficult for health care responders, given the region has mixed road infrastructure between urban and somewhat isolated rural areas.

“The virus is spreading across a wide and rugged terrain which requires costly interventions,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa regional director, according to a Reuters release.

While the Équateur province outbreak clearly faces social issues as well, there are fewer obstacles than Kivu in terms of armed conflict. The Kivu Conflict significantly frustrated efforts to control disease spread in the 10th Ebola outbreak.

“Conflict, including clashes between armed groups and Congolese security forces, has resulted in eruptions of violence targeting civilians and displacement of tens of thousands of residents into neighboring provinces and countries (Rwanda and Uganda),” authors of a January, 2020 (before the current outbreak) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report wrote.