ZIM STRIKE CHAOS

HARARE - Zimbabwe's four major hospitals are being overwhelmed by patients as a week-old strike by the country's junior doctors intensifies, the head of their union said yesterday.

HARARE - Zimbabwe's four major hospitals are being overwhelmed by patients as a week-old strike by the country's junior doctors intensifies, the head of their union said yesterday.

Hundreds of junior doctors in the two central hospitals in the capital Harare and two in Bulawayo downed tools last week in a row over pay.

The doctors are demanding an increase in pay from the US$370 (about R2955) they have been receiving from the power-sharing government formed in February by President Robert Mugabe and prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

"It's a very serious situation," said Brighton Chizhande, head of the Hospital Doctors Association.

"The hospitals are doing only emergency cases. Some outpatient departments are closed. Theatre cases are markedly reduced."

He said senior doctors not on strike were "overwhelmed" since they were forced to take over the minor but essential procedures usually done by junior doctors.

Junior doctors in district hospitals had not yet joined the strike, but they were receiving larger allowances from the Global Fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, he said.

Doctors at the central hospitals were being paid by the government and a coalition of Western donors. - Sapa-DPA

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