Maputo - Striking doctors in Mozambique ended a nine-day work stoppage on Tuesday after signing a deal with the government for a pay hike, their leader said.

“We have a memorandum of understanding... And as of April we will have a new salary bracket,” Jorge Arroz, the president of Mozambique's Medical Association, told reporters.

But no details of the pay hikes have been reached yet.

The doctors downed tools last week Monday, arguing their pay cheques had not increased in real terms over the past 20 years. Government officials called the strike illegal.

“Nothing is concrete but the principle is clear,” Arroz said, explaining there was an understanding that medics deserved salaries as high as court judges.

Local media last month reported that doctors were demanding a basic monthly wage of 90 000 meticals ($3 000) while the government was said to be offering between 20 000 and 38 000 meticals.

Military doctors had been deployed during the strike, especially at main hospitals, and patients spent longer waiting to be seen.

Mozambique has a total of 1 200 doctors in both public and private practice countrywide, with a ratio of one doctor to 22 000 Mozambicans. - Sapa-AFP