INTRODUCTION: Doctors throughout Peru are continuing their strike for an increase in their basic salary, greater job security and the introduction of free treatment for the poor.
LIMA, PERU 7 AUGUST, 1981 (REUTERS - JACOB LEGASPI)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Doctors throughout Peru are continuing their strike for an increase in their basic salary, greater job security and the introduction of free treatment for the poor. The protest, which began on Friday (7 August), has severely disrupted medical services. It adds to the political and economic problems of President Fernando Belaunde's government. The first democratically-elected administration in 12 years, it faces rampant inflation, high unemployment and a budget deficit.
SYNOPSIS: State-run hospitals were quickly reduced to providing only emergency services. The government had triggered the strike by refusing a wage increase to Peru's 13,000 doctors. The doctors want a minimum basic salary of 650 US dollars a month. The government did agree to extend free medical treatment next year. A spokesman for the doctors's federation said the strike response was virtually total in public hospitals, although some private clinics were running a normal service.
The government alerted army and police medical corps to ease the situation, but people needing medical attention crowded into casualty centres, with no option but to sit patiently. Government officials claimed there were no serious complaints from patients.
Mediators of the dispute were confident of an early resolution, but, with doctors holding to their demands, and the government refusing to be cornered, ailing citizens throughout the country faced a harrowing period.