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Zimbabwe Doctors Seeking Mugabe Help in Ending Nationwide Strike

FILE - A researcher injects DNA material onto a laboratory dish.

Striking junior and middle level doctors are seeking an audience with President Robert Mugabe following their failure to reach an agreement with the health minister and other senior government officials over their pay grievances.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) says it resolved to seek President Mugabe’s intervention after their talks with the ministries of health and finance hit a snag.

Mr. Mugabe will be petitioned when he returns from Vienna, Austria, where he is attending a United Nations meeting.

Around 400 junior doctors went on strike last week Monday at the lapse of a two-week ultimatum for the government to address their demands for a pay rise of around 400 percent.

The junior doctors want monthly salaries increased from $283 to $1,200, a hike in housing and transport allowances and are also seeking a risk allowance. But the Health Service Board says the strike is illegal.

At Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare Central, Mpilo Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals, all referral health institutions which cater mainly for the poor, doctors were attending to emergencies only while turning away non-critical patients.

Outpatient and emergency departments and theatres have downgraded their operations.

ZHDA secretary general Dr. Farai Makoni said negotiations have been slow.