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New Wave Of Strikes Emerges In Zimbabwe's State Hospital System

Just a month after the Zimbabwean government ended a 10-week strike by doctors in public hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo, a new strike by health workers is widening with resident doctors and nurses stopping work over shortfalls in monthly salaries.

Sources said nurses at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare and in the United Bulawayo Hospitals have gone on strike, while nurses at Harare Hospital in the capital and Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo were still discussing what action to take in the dispute.

Nurses and some residents at state hospitals say they received only half their salaries this month, with some residents receiving as little as Z$17,000, the equivalent of less than one U.S. dollar at the prevailing parallel market exchange rate. Sources said more than 100 resident doctors at Parirenyatwa Hospital were not paid at all.

Officials at Parirenyatwa Hospital offered the residents an advance on their salaries - but cautioned that it would have to be paid back once they were paid.

Zimbabwe Vice President Joseph Msika declared last week that the government is committed to solving problems in the health care system. But he said top officials were unaware of the grievances nurses, “hence the need to improve on communication.”

But senior consulting physician Dr. Chris Mushonga told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the confusion at the hospitals was due to Harare's failure to end an economic crisis which is affecting all sectors.

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