When she awoke on 11 September to go to work, Valerie Amessan did not imagine that the strike by state doctors in Cote d'Ivoire was going to upend her life and that of her entire family.
Her younger sister, 28-year-old Alice Adja, was about to give birth when she died at hospital, no doctor to be found.
“Alice was in Grand Bassam [a town 45km from the commercial capital, Abidjan]. She called our mother in Abidjan to tell her she was on the way to hospital to have her baby. Our mother told her she would be right there next to her after the birth for moral support and to help take care of the baby.
"When we arrived at hospital, it was immediately clear that not a single doctor was on duty. Only some trainees were keeping watch over hospital facilities; they weren’t qualified to provide any medical assistance.
"Next to us, a woman was waiting with her two-year-old child, who was in a critical state. Sadly, in the next few moments, she lost the child, despite her cries for help.
"Just then, my sister’s condition became urgent. She went into labour there at the hospital. There was not a single midwife around and the trainees looked on, helpless.
"Suddenly my sister’s condition started to deteriorate. Her face turned ashen. In a voice we could barely hear, she said, ‘I’m suffering, I’m suffering. Are you going to let me die?’ as the interns watched then slipped away one by one.
"Panicked, they decided to call a doctor and midwife. But as they made this last-minute attempt, my sister died on the stretcher.
"I am utterly distraught. She was the hope of our entire family and we have lost her.
"Alice already had one child and we don’t know who will take care of her.
"For me this is a double murder perpetrated by the doctors. They no longer work for their calling, but only for money. They must be struck off, until in the end God’s justice will make them pay for their shameful acts.
"And I blame the humanitarian organisations. With this kind of situation, they should come to the rescue of the people. But they have not reacted. They are condoning this.”
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions