In Middle Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Cameroon Slashes Pay Of Doctors

Cameroon has decided to slash the already paltry salaries of medical personnel in the country.

Meanwhile, several countries around the world have been showing appreciation for the sacrifices being made by medical personnel involving even the death of many of them, by increasing their monthly salaries.

Doctors and workers in the medical sector who went to the banks to receive their salaries early this week were greeted by the big surprise involving the slashing of their salaries by 2,400 FCFA each.

As is usually the case in Cameroon, no immediate explanation was given to this development.

This is coming at a time when doctors and other medical staff have been agitating for the revalorization of their monthly remuneration taking into account the extra sacrifices and extra hours they have to put in to fight against the escalating Covid-19 pandemic.

In reaction, a hurriedly constituted body called the “Collective of Angry Doctors” has petitioned the Head of State President Paul Biya drawing his attention to the rather uncalled for action at this time when the medical personnel were expecting an increase in their salaries.

The petition to the head of state was signed by over 1,500 doctors and in a communiqué issued after the constitution of the Collective, the doctors revealed that they have hired the services of Barrister Assira Engoute Claude-Bernard, a former Supreme Court judge who resigned his appointment, to initiate action against government in the law courts if the head of state does not respond favourably to their demands.

In a rather belated reaction to the threat by doctors to take government to court for the slash in their salaries, the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Manaouda Malachie explained that the said 2,400 FCFA deducted from the salaries of the doctors was due to have been effected several years back within the context of the operation to clean the government payroll.

He inferred that the fact that the doctors had continued receiving the allowance was a favour in itself.

The minister rejected insinuations that the public outcry against such negative action against medical staff at this point in time, was uncalled for and unappreciative of the fact that the government recently decided to increase the retirement age of medical personnel by five years.

However, a majority of doctors spoken to were of the opinion that increasing the retirement age of medical staff was not a favour per se because there are some individuals who would rather opt to go on retirement earlier at an age when they are still strong enough to set up personal businesses such as clinics.

“It is only in Cameroon and some African countries that late retirement can be perceived as a favour.

“In France from which Cameroonian officialdom apes its actions, workers’ syndicates have over the years been demonstrating for the reduction of the retirement age.

“How come that in our own case, increasing the retirement age has become a favour”, asked a medical officer in Yaounde.

Some doctors insisted they would rather prefer a healthy pay package and early retirement to peanuts and late retirement.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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