Zimbabwean Health Minister David Parirenyatwa took a hard line Tuesday with about 350 hospital residents whose strike continued to cripple operations at the four main government hospitals in Harare, the capital, and Bulawayo.
Launched by junior residents two weeks ago and joined by senior residents last week, the strike has closed hospital casualty departments. Hospital sources said emergency cases are being treated by senior consultants and non-striking foreign doctors.
A representative of the striking doctors, Amon Siveregi, said Parirenyatwa called off a meeting that had been scheduled Tuesday, telling the doctors he would only negotiate with them once they had returned to work. He warned the striking physicians that his ministry would take “drastic “ measures against them if they did not end the strike.
Dr. Parirenyatwa, himself a physician, could not be reached for comment.
The doctors are demanding higher salaries and improved working conditions. Junior doctors currently earn Z$56,000 a month, beneath the official poverty line.