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Zimbabwe Public Hospital Resident Doctors End Strike After 10 Weeks

Resident doctors at Zimbabwe state hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo who have been on strike since late December have agreed to return to work as of Thursday, said sources close to the 10-week action that crippled the public health care system.

But the Health Services Board, officials of which met with representatives of doctors on Monday, did not disclose the terms of the settlement. Sources familiar with the discussions said this indicates that an official review of the deal continues.

However, the board said increases in compensation for doctors would be in line with those granted to all civil servants in negotiations last week between the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and the Public Service Association.

The board disclosed that doctors would receive car loans of Z$30 million apiece while residents living outside hospitals would get a Z$100,000 monthly housing allowance.

Some residents at Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital said they agreed to go back to work because they are in financial distress, but said they are not happy with the settlement. The doctors said they are expecting to receive upgraded salaries ranging from Z$1.9 million (US$275) to Z$2.2 million dollars (Z$315) a month, short of their demands.

Ministry of Health officials could not be reached for comment on the settlement.

But parliamentarian Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the house committee on health, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that discussions among top health officials will continue next week because the problems faced by doctors and other health care personnel still require urgent attention.

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