Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Sunday, 28 March 2010 16:06 UK

Sierra Leone doctors and nurses get massive pay rise

Hospital in Freetown, September 2009
Some hospitals are being manned by army and police doctors

Health workers in Sierra Leone say they will end their 10-day strike, after the president agreed in a late-night deal to increase their pay six-fold.

Strike organiser Dr Freddie Coker told the BBC that doctors would now get a take-home salary of $600 (£402) a month, up from $100 (£67).

The deal came after President Ernest Bai Koroma had told health workers to return to work by Monday or be sacked.

The stoppage has led to the closure of the country's main children's hospital.

Several wards at the main maternity hospital in the capital Freetown have also been shut, while army and police nurses have been drafted in.

The president has said that the industrial action may have led to some deaths in the country.

Sierra Leone is one of the world's poorest countries and is recovering from civil war.

The government had earlier said the most it could afford was to double the health workers' pay.

President Koroma had, however, said their demands were justified.

Nurses currently earn just $40 (£27) a month.

The strike comes as the country prepares to introduce free medical healthcare for pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers, as well as children under five years.

The health workers said this would lead to a huge increase in their workload.

Sierra Leone has one of the world's highest rates of maternal mortality.

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