Medical workers under the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) who are members of the National Organization for Nurses and Midwives (NONM) have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from Thursday protesting against government’s failure to increase their salaries.
The sit in comes after the expiry of the seven-day ultimatum which NONM gave to Malawi government to meet the workers’ demand of 45 percent salary increment and arrears dating back from October last year.
NONM president Dorothy Ngoma told journalists in Blantyre Wednesday afternoon that what it means is that the nurses will go on duty in full uniform but will only cover the major areas “where we know that if nurses were not there, we might lose life.”
“These are labour units, maybe pediatric units, intensive care and high dependency units. These will be covered sparsely but the nurses and midwives will be close by, watching closely. If things will be very rough, they will go in and support each other,” said Ngoma.
She said the strike will be temporary halted whenever there is a major accident.
“If, for example, we have there is a major accident close by and our services are needed we will break briefly and go to attend to the patients and then continue with the strike. We plan to do that until we get the money,” said Ngoma.
Spokesperson for Cham workers Chisomo Mkandawire said the employees called off their nationwide strike following government’s assurance to meet their demands.
Mkandawire said they gave government “seven days to ensure that the matter is resolved or else we will carry on with the stay-away.”
Mkandawire said they will go on a full-blown strike that would cripple a huge chunk of healthcare service delivery in the country.
CHAM is a key partner to the Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Health in implementing the Health Sector Strategic Plan, including delivery of the Essential Health Package and training of human resources for health, and in other sector-wide initiatives.
It has 171 member health facilities, 20 major hospitals, 30 community hospitals that provide 37 percent of the country’s healthcare service delivery out of which more than 90 percent serve rural and hard-to-reach areas where public health centres are mostly unavailable.
Government bars health workers and those from other essential services from striking but nurses have often defied the directive – when necessary.–Additional reporting by Harru Chibwe, Nyasa TimesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :