The government and senior health officials have started discussions to end a strike by staff that has crippled health services across the country, sources said. Health Minister Emmanuel Gikoro met provincial health directors, hospital managers and heads of health districts over the weekend, but said the government could not increase salaries. "Payment of the claimed salary increase will [only] be possible after cancellation of Burundi's debts by donors in 2009," the minister said. Donation Bwabo, adviser in the finance ministry, urged the striking nurses and physicians to resume work. "Work stoppage will cause the deaths of many people," he said. (IRIN)

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