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Zimbabwe doctors to join nurses on strike as virus cases rise

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A health worker screens and sanitises visitors to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside a hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe March 26, 2020. PHOTO: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Senior doctors in Zimbabwe’s public health service have threatened to walk out over low pay and lack of coronavirus protective gear, in the latest dispute to plague the country’s battered health system.

Some 15,000 nurses have been on strike for two weeks over wages that have been hit by galloping inflation.

Coronavirus infections are rising rapidly, reaching 1,089 cases including 20 fatalities, according to official figures.

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“We are finding it difficult to continue offering services in our work stations because of a number of challenges… for which no solution has been proffered,” the Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors’ Association said.

Its notice to strike, seen by AFP on Thursday, takes effect in two weeks.

Price rises in Zimbabwe are running at more than 700 percent, eroding salaries and savings and reigniting memories of hyperinflation a decade ago.

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week axed the health minister, Obadiah Moyo, over corruption allegations involving medical procurement worth US$60 million (52.5 million euros).

Days later, the Health Services Board fired the heads of five state hospitals in what it termed “a restructuring exercise.”

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