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Zimbabwe Health Minister Meets Top Doctors In Bid To End Strike

Zimbabwe Health Minister David Parirenyatwa met Tuesday with hospital consulting doctors to seek a solution to a continuing strike by junior and senior residents, but medical sources said the meeting did not yield any immediate results.

Dr. Parirenyatwa was said to have insisted that the striking medical officers go back to work while the government considers their mainly economic grievances.

The minister could not be reached for confirmation of the meeting and its outcome. But junior doctors said they were encouraged by the involvement of consulting doctors, who were instrumental in resolving a similar strike in July of last year.

But the junior residents ruled out going back to work before their demands had been addressed. They said the consultants meeting with Dr. Parirenyatwa took up issues including salaries, housing, transport and on-call allowances

The junior doctors say present compensation levels are inadequate in the country's hyperinflationary environment. The residents currently earn Z$56,000 a month, some US$18 at the parallel market exchange rate, and under the official poverty line.

For perspective on the dispute, reporter Carole Gombakomba turned to Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, who said the government needs to address such issues urgently to save lives.

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