Les grèves de médecins en République Démocratique du Congo : quels repères éthiques généralisables?

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Laurent Jean-Claude Ravez
Stuart Rennie
Robert Yemesi
Jean-Lambert Chalachala
Darius Makindu
Frieda Behets
Albert Fox
Melchior Kashamuka
Patrick Kayembé

Abstract

For several years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the scene of strikes by the country’s doctors. The strikers’ demands are essentially financial and statutory and are intended to put pressure on the government. In this country, as is the case almost everywhere in the world, medical strikes are allowed. Every worker has the right to denounce by strike working conditions that are considered unacceptable. But are doctors just like any other workers? Do they not have particular moral obligations linked to the specificities of their profession? To shed light on these questions, the authors of this article propose three essential moral benchmarks that can be generalized to medical strike situations elsewhere in the world. The first concerns the recognition of the right to strike for doctors, including for strictly financial reasons. Health professionals cannot be asked to work in inhuman working conditions or without a salary to support their families. The second benchmark argues that it is unacceptable for this right to strike to be exercised if it sacrifices the most vulnerable patients and thus denies the very essence of the medical profession. A third benchmark complicates the reflection by reminding us that the extreme dilapidation of the Congolese health system makes it impossible to organise a minimum quality service in the event of a strike. To overcome these difficulties, we propose a national therapeutic alliance between doctors and citizens to put patients back at the centre of the health system’s concerns.

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