Directed by Dieudo Hamadi & Divita Wa Lusala • Documentary • 2009 • 24 minutes
Taking in the wives of the unemployed, of unpaid government employees, the Kitambo maternity clinic in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo has to cope with its patients' lack of money. And negotiations are tough between the administration and the women. As long as the bill remains unsettled they are kept at the clinic, which only increases the cost of their stay. And here everything has a price, even a birth certificate. The women's protests against their poor accommodations or their claims that their husbands' pay is overdue can change nothing. The female administrator won't budge an inch. If you've no money, you stay put. 'Hold me hostage instead of my wife,' offers one man. A long suffering manager, herself at the mercy of the system, must negotiate collateral with them: a celebration dress, a pair of earrings, a suitcase, so they will return and pay in full.
LADIES IN WAITING is an intimate, all-too-human reminder of the ways economic forces play out in even the best-intentioned healthcare institutions in poor countries affecting not only the institutions, but health care workers and patients alike.