Doctors in Mozambique have gone on strike over pay and working conditions demands, which they claim have not been met by the government, Al Jazeera has learned. 

In mounting the strike on Monday, the doctors defied the government, which prohibits public-service workers from going on strike.

It is not clear how many of the country's doctors are involved. But at the central hospital in Maputo, the national capital, "the situation seems normal" despite the strike, according to Al Jazeera's Karl Sousa.

"They say the doctors are on strike indeed, but they are keeping the basic services," Sousa said. 

Earlier, Jorge Arroz, president of the doctor's association, said: "As from Monday, January 7, all doctors in Mozambique will paralyse their activities since the government has not responded to their demands concerning salaries, accommodation and doctors' statutes."

The health ministry said on Sunday that no law in Mozambique allowed essential public-service workers to go on strike.

Last month, local media reported that doctors were demanding a basic wage of $3,000 while the government was offering between $600 and $1,200.

The doctors also demanded equal allocation of state-owned housing, which they claim favours foreign doctors.  

The strike was initially announced last December, but was postponed while negotiations continued between the doctors and the government.

Speaking on Friday, Alexandre Manguele, health minister, said the government does not have the money to pay wage increases on the scale that the doctors are demanding, the online news site All Africa reported. 

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

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies