Malawi health workers boycott work at Queen’s Hospital, Chikwawa

Hosputal workers at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre  and Chikwawa district hospital have on Tuesday been boycotting work to force the government increase their risk allowance,  improve their  working conditions including a “critical” shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to treat patients during coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

Minister of Transport Ralph Joomaon Tuesday visited  Chikwawa District Hospital

Doctors, nurses and other clinicians left patients unattended to at the public hospitals.

The frontline health workers were staging a demonstration outside the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital carrying placards with slogans such as “We are not going on suicide mission” and “Should my family suffer because of my calling?”

The health workers say the K1800 risk allowance is too little, saying they want 70 per cent of their monthly pay as the risk allowance.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Kondwani Nankhumwa happened to be at Queen’s hospital on other business when the workers started the strike.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice president for the south addressed the workers impromtly.

He told them that he would immediately forward the grievances to the relevant authorities.

In Chikhwawa, the situation was the same.

The action came despite the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives asking its members on Monday to return to work following a brief strike over the weekend. The organisation said the government had provided assurances to resolve their grievances, which include demands for PPE and risk allowance of 70 percent of their basic salary.

Health Minister Jappie Mhango said government has enough equipment available “to keep us going for a while”, adding that additional gear was being distributed “as we’re talking right now”.

Malawi has, so far, 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus, mostly from individuals who arrived in the country from India, United Kingdom and elsewhere. Two deaths associated with COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, have been registered to date.

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