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Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors' Strike Continues Following Failure Of Talks

Extended talks until late Monday between Zimbabwe's minister of health and senior hospital consultants who are representing striking residents failed to produce a break in the labor dispute, leaving government hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo in crisis.

Sources close to the talks said they involved Health Minister David Parirenyatwa and the four consultants and that the government put no offer on the table in answer to demands by junior and senior residents.The doctors, currently earning between Z$56,000 and Z$76,000, are demanding salaries of Z$5 million a month.

Twelve-month consumer inflation in Zimbabwe reached 1,181% in December, and the prices of essential goods and services, including school fees, continue to soar.

Elsewhere, a strike by nurses disrupted operations at Harare Hospital in the capital, and in the second city of Bulawayo at Mpilo HJospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals.

Secretary General Vanzai Majada of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association declined to comment on the work action, but other sources said the nurses want a monthly salary of Z$3 million dollars - about US$850 at the parallel market exchange rate. Following a recent 300% pay increase, the nurses now make Z$144,000 a month, some US$40 at the informal exchange rate and well under the official poverty line.

Blessing Chebundo, parliamentarian for Kwekwe and a member of the health and child welfare committee, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government needs to take the strike by hospital personnel more seriously.

More reports from VOA'S Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...