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Nationwide Doctors’ Strike to Continue Indefinitely

May 1, 1996

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Thousands of doctors in state-run hospitals today extended their one-day strike indefinitely, plunging the nation’s health care system further into turmoil.

Hospitals have reported several deaths due to lack of medical care since the strike begun on Tuesday, despite skeleton crews remaining to treat emergency cases.

The strike, which affects 400 hospitals, had been scheduled for only one day. But Dr. Ajith Samarasinghe, a spokesman for the Government Medical Officers’ Association, said today that it would continue until health minister Mohammed Fowzie gave in to the doctors’ demands.

The doctors are protesting the minister’s decision to give preference to 10 foreign-educated interns in assigning seniority among 456 new doctors.

Graduates of local medical schools, who had already been prevented from starting work for nearly two years because of government red tape, have protested the decision, which affects seniority for the rest of their careers.

Relations between Fowzie and the 4,000 government doctors have been strained since last year, when he ordered them to sign daily attendance registers.

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