ALGERIA Oued Souf: Fire in a Maternity Hospital “For an end to these policies and to the regime that implements them”

Eight newborn infants died in a fire that broke out in a maternity hospital in Oued Souf. Other infants were injured. This has caused great emotion throughout the country. The citizens of this southern town have poured out into the streets to express their anger, their indignation, and their disgust. The minister of Healthcare thought it best to relieve the director of the hospital and the regional head of Healthcare of their duties -the minister himself remaining in place. 

With these decisions, the minister means to limit the confines of “this crime” to local and individual failings. Yet, is that the truth? Absolutely not. (…) Here is what the head of the National Union of Public Healthcare Practitioners (SNPSP), Dr. Mrabet, said: “The hospital structures are dilapidated, and fire security standards do not even exist in the building specifications.” 

Moreover, the real reasons lie elsewhere. It was less than a year ago that the minister, riding roughshod over the Popular National Assembly (i.e., parliament), had a new healthcare law adopted. (…) The draft was based on a principle recommended by the IMF and the World Bank: make this sector profitable by practicing “truthful prices”, limiting procurement and renewal of materials, freezing healthcare infrastructure construction projects – particularly in the south and interior of the country – and, finally, limiting the recruitment of necessary staff. (…) Can we trust this regime, which is preparing to implement yet other recommendations from the IMF and the World Bank in “the framework of a ‘new look’ structural adjustment plan” that will involve all sectors of the national economy, with the same objective, that of “recolonizing” the country? The answer is: definitely not! 

To put an end to these anti-worker and anti-national policies, we must put an end to the regime which, obeying imperialism, implements them. The regime means to extend these policies by organising their continuation in power through the 12 December presidential election, thus confiscating the 

sovereign right of the people to decide for themselves. (…) Trade union and worker organisations must break with all the fronts associated with the lawyers of the bourgeoisie and imperialism; we must together achieve our unity and set up popular citizens’ committees in the factories, in the universities and in the neighbourhoods. We must co-ordinate at all levels, we must organise a boycott of the elections and prepare the general strike, to put an end to the regime. Let us fight for the convening of a sovereign Constituent Assembly, for satisfaction of all democratic and social demands, for a government of workers and their organisations united. The activists of the Organisation Committee of Internationalist Socialists (COSI) are fighting here where they are, on this orientation, which was made concrete in Béjaïa this 24 September.  

(Extracts from the editorial of issue n° 36 of Minbar el Oummel (Workers Tribune), 25 September 2019, publication of the Organisation Committee of Internationalist Socialists (COSI).