29 Apr 2003

French Polynesian doctors to strike amid health care crisis

4:26 am on 29 April 2003

Doctors in French Polynesia are to begin an open-ended strike today in a deepening crisis over social security payments.

The strike by private doctors is to begin today and will be joined by public hospital doctors two days later, leaving the territory with only emergency care.

The dispute centres on the financial woes of the public health care insurance scheme which has cut doctor payments because of its deficit.

This also follows comments in parliament by the territorial president, Gaston Flosse, who condemned the doctors' attitude and described their incomes as excessive.

The doctors union has describes the accusations as ridiculous and insulting as well as lies.

Opposition politicians say they are concerned about the rising cost of health care.

Meanwhile, the French company building Tahiti's new hospital says it will pull out at the end of June.

Work was suspended at the end of last year amid disagreements over the terms of the contract.