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Doctors have right to strike, Catholic justice commission tells Zimbabwe gov't
Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA)
January 24, 2007

http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=22796

HARARE The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe has urged the government to address the grievances of striking state doctors, saying their month-long action is hurting poor patients.

"The strike has caused untold human suffering and loss of life to many," the commission said, according the Independent Catholic News, quoting local media.

The Commission for Justice and Peace said "the doctors have a right to strike if the employer is insensitive to their needs, which are not out of this world. The longer the dispute is not resolved, the more the ordinary people will suffer."

Junior doctors at Zimbabwe's four main state hospitals began their work boycott nearly four weeks ago when they limited the number of patients they treated. The action soon escalated into an all-out strike.

The doctors are demanding that their salaries be raised from the current 56,000 Zimbabwe Dollars to 5 million. With inflation in Zimbabwe running at more than 1,000 percent the current doctors' salaries barely cover the cost of food.

The doctors ignored calls from Health Minister David Parirenyatwa to end their strike after being offered an undisclosed salary package by the government.

Patients are bearing the brunt of the crisis as nurses, state health consultants and remaining doctors battle to attend to overwhelming numbers.

Last week, the Health Ministry called on army medics to step in and augment skeleton staff numbers at some hospitals. Zimbabwe is in the throes of a severe economic recession characterized by four-digit inflation, massive unemployment, and chronic shortages of drugs in state hospitals and basic foodstuffs.

*Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA), based in Nairobi, Kenya (www.cisanewsafrica.org)

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