Shortage of nurses hit Malawi: Has only 25% of required numbers

Malawi faces a critical shortage of nurses with officials saying the current figures show that the country has only 25 percent of the required numbers.

In 2010, Malawi had a nurse/patient ratio of 17:100,000 and the ratio is said to have improved to 34 nurses per 100 000 patients but this ratio is still high compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended 500 nurses per 100 000 patients.

Principal of Kamuzu College of Nursing and Midwifery, Professor Address Malata in an interview with Nyasa Times said the situation is still deteriorating with nursing vacancy rate in the country now at 75 percent.

Prof Address Malata:  Shortage of nurses

Prof Address Malata: Shortage of nurses

Malata sent an SOS calling for more collaboration among stakeholders to rectify the situation.

The KCN Principal was speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the opening of a Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (Carta) in Lilongwe on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

She observed that quality healthcare cannot be improved with the current shortage of human resource in the health sector and nurses in particular.

“The current vacancy rate of nurses and midwives is huge. Of course, as a way of solving this problem, the University of Malawi has responded by creating new PhD programmes,” she said.

Malata said while more nurses and midwifes are needed in terms of providing bedside and other clinical care for patients, there is also need for more such professionals to intensify research.

“Research will help unearth new methods of training individuals and improve the health sector,”  she said.

Carta was established by the African Population and Health Research Centre as a way of strengthening research infrastructure in African universities and to support doctoral training through a model collaborative PhD programme in population and public health.

“As a country, we have greatly benefited from Carta because the country has the highest total number of fellows under the armpit of the organisation,” said Malata.

She added: “Malawi developed a national health research agenda whose lifespan is four years from 2012 aiming at ensuring that research is in line with national development priorities.”

During the function, African Population and Health Research Centre director Alex Ezeh said it is important for African universities to work together as they normally have similar problems.

“We have to take a leading role in training scholars because a student, once trained in Africa, has got a high chance of working anywhere on the continent,” said Ezeh.

He also said university education in most sub-Saharan African countries faces many challenges, including unprecedented growth in student enrolment and the expansion of training programmes, among others.

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21 thoughts on “Shortage of nurses hit Malawi: Has only 25% of required numbers”

  1. urban planner says:

    You should have a conversation with the ministry of health and the ministry of Labour and the ministry of planning and Economic Development..
    Most importantly, how are you going to incentivise the nursing profession? I advise you to look up nursing stats at the us department of labour and particularly the health profession and itss #future job gtowth projections.
    Lack of nurses is a reflection of lack of incentives in our country. What are you doing to keep nurses in malawi.

  2. Nankungwi says:

    LEARN TO LOOK AFTER YOUR NURSES, THEY WILL STAY IN COUNTRY

  3. Hum says:

    Shortage of nurses true but what of cleaners?why should patients’ guardIans be made toilet cleaners?hospital management take note or u are saying ur allocations do not include sanitation contracts?

  4. fikisa says:

    The problem cannot be solved by introducing Masters or PhD programmes. The fact is that nurses do not receive incentives to keep them in the service. This is worsened by the fact that there is a huge demand for nurses in other countries such as the UK and though salaries are low in such countries, they cannot compare with our salaries. The lesser evil therefore is for nurses to migrate. Inasmuch as Malawi cannot compete with the UK in terms of salaries, there are still ways in which serving as a nurse in Malawi would be attractive than elsewhere or complete change of career.

  5. sera says:

    many nurse technicians graduate but eventually change professions because of the treatment they get from both the environment and and the so called REGISTERED NURSES WHO DO NOT DO THE PRACTICAL WORK . as im talking 50% of them are in school ,30% quit and started new professions and only 20% continue to work. MUSOVENGE

    1. ruth warren says:

      Iwe ndiye wayankhula i think umazitsata za manursezi iwe mu nursing ndi profession imene imabowa pa malawi pano. Kuli azimayi obowa khalidwe ozunza ana a anzawo. Go ku KCN kuli azimayi ongowophyeza komanso Nzeru alibe. Guyz ithaweni Nursingyo simungatukuke ma leaders ake lack vision and have rusty munds and dont even like them. Nursing ndie kuti chani? kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk ntchito kupukuta mawindow baxi hahahahahah

  6. Chonde-chonde says:

    Oh!!! What are you saying over in Malawi ??? We are on our as Nigerian nurses !!!! Pay us millions of kwachas !!! Oh, by the way, we will call also cussians the Phillipino nurses !!!!It is easy to get work permits in your country than in other countries. Just few kwachas to some officesrs in Bt and Lilongwe for 12PM m’memo then the deal is sealed !!!! The Nyasa guys do not put this until we get there!!!! You too will get something small for fanta!!!!

  7. concerned says:

    another problem is the situation with council examz. u say fresh graduating nurses cant work in the wards before they get lincences as a result these guys are just rotting in thier home in the name of waiting for council examz. i think it would be better if you might allow these guys to be in the wards beefing up the staff while they are waiting for teh examz. there a lot of fresh graduates in the communities who are jst staying saying they are waitng to write council examz, thats not fair

  8. Nohakhelha says:

    Vuto lake nurse mumawerengera apa KCN okha, enawa mumati ndi bed pans??

  9. Nathaniel says:

    A lot of nurses have left the proffessional especially nurse te hnician who make up of 70 % of the said nurses many are being trained a health systems managers , at Com some r at Bunda doing nutrition some at chanco doing human resource and some at Livingstonia doing public health in the next 5 or so years to come the situation will come back to 1993 believe u me the situation on the is worse the pathetic thing is some NMTs who opt to re-write their msce and happen to beselected to other college other than kcn to change so as the go to kcn they r denied that chance as a result many r changing to other careers , the top blast r full of neg attitude ,, there some NMTs who opt to go to africa university wea they offer two yrs degree in nursing but wen they come here the council says they can’t recognise them

    1. kambani zithe says:

      Just clearing the air, the two year african university is for registered nurses who hold a diploma or certificate and registere as Registere Nurses in their home countries. African university is just making money out of these NMTs who have not read the university prospectus. the programme is not a bridging programme but rather a top up and Nurses council is right not to register those who have gone through this programme. some people are arguing that once NMT get this qualification he/she can work anywhere in the world, much as I understand that this qualification is recognised world wide, the nurses council needs to verify the qualifications of the registrant. These NMTs when they finish the two year programme are they eligible to register with professional council in Zimbabwe? if the answer is no, thats the big problem. if the answer is yes, good enough.

  10. Nathaniel says:

    A lot of nurses have left the proffessional especially nurse te hnician who make up of 70 % of the said nurses many are being trained a health systems managers , at Com some r at Bunda doing nutrition some at chanco doing human resource and some at Livingstonia doing public health in the next 5 or so years to come the situation will come back to 1993 believe u me the situation on the is worse the pathetic thing is some NMTs who opt to re-write their msce and happen to beselected to other college other than kcn to change so as the go to kcn they r denied that chance as a result many r changing to other prof

  11. GULEKWAWO says:

    Zonsezi CENTRAL MALAWI Zizakhala Mbiri Yakale !!!!

  12. kholobowa(nthochi wapathyolo) says:

    vuto mumamvera ma patient abodza akadzadandaula ku nurses and midwife council malawi mumamvera bodzalo they end up kulanda ma licence ama nurse.musadandaule lero pano ma nurse adazitaya ngati mufuna adalandidwa licence col them back

  13. PROBLEM SOME OF MISSION TRAINIG SCHOOLS OR COLLAGES HAVE BEEN CLOSED AND HIGH SCHOOL FEES FOR COLLAGES CONTRIBUTES LOW INTAKE. GVT TO FIND SOLUTIONS TO REDUCE THIS, PUT TRAINNING SCHOOLS IN OTHER DISTRICTS IN MALAWI FOR CERTICATE LEVELS AS IT IS WITH THE TEACHERS’ TRAINNING PROGRAMMES.

  14. Khuni says:

    The lady is a Professor. Address her as one, PLEASE!

    1. Mbuzi says:

      zachikuda ndi choncho begging people to identify u as a professor shame, OBAMA, michelle obama both are professors but they dont scare people that way, if they are smart let them do their work respect will follow them, but begging respct that way is trash

      1. khude says:

        iwe ndi mbuzidi eti did she beg anything hea shame on u, welenganiso muvesese story yo

  15. Cancerkiller says:

    If I am paid 3 billion EURO, I can describe Malawians how to stay absolutely healthy all the time, all their lives, so they will not need so many nurses, they will need just midwifes. Malawians will not fear at all diseases like Ebola virus, or any other infections (West Nile, Bubonic, SARS, HIV/AIDS, Colds, Flues, Malaria, Dengue, Cholera, Yellow Fever, etc.), any cancers, diabetes and strokes. Any bioweapons (Ebola, Bubonic Plague, etc.) will be killed the moment they touch them.

  16. Doctor opuma Ntchito says:

    Prof. Malata, with due respect, training the Nurses to PhD level will only take them from bed side and make the situation worse. Doctors can study for MSc, PhD but they still do consultations and attend patients at bed side-go to COM and see. On the other hand, once a nurse has even an BSc, she or he wants to be in office. They have fooling mentally our Malawian Nurses, high education equates to not working in the ward providing needed nursing care. Of course offer high training for nurses, but make it medical oriented, make it surgical, medical or obs and gy specialist nursing trainints at MSc or PhD level and let them seve alongside doctors in the ward., while mentoring the young nurses.

    Having said that, keep the good job at KCH, mukuitha mai.

    1. My brother the reason for higher education sikukhala pa bed side. Automatically after an M.Sc or PhD the scope changes to scholarship in your field. Unless you Masters or doctorate is a professional one built on technical skills. Those professional masters and doctorates are also available in the world

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