Malawi medics threaten stay-way over ‘inadequate’ protection in Covid-19 crisis

Frontline medical workers through Medical Doctors Union of Malawi has asked the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus (Covid-19) to provide several services including providing  adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for those heading into a ‘warzone’ as the virus pandemic hits.

Doctors  warn shortages of appropriate equipment may put their  lives  at risk

Health workers across the country are ‘taking risks’ when it comes to their own health due to the ‘inadequate’ protection they are being provided with.

In a letter addressed to the chairperson of the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19, who is also Minister of Health and Population, Jappie Mhango and copied to President Peter Mutharika, the Union says failure on the part of Government to meet the minimum standards set for the doctors, the Union will inform its members to withdraw labour force.

“Due to the urgency of the matter and in consideration that any delays in implementation of the Union’s demands will undermine His Excellency’s commitment to Covid-19 National Response, MDUM is urging your office to expedite feedback on the raised issues by 10th April, 2020,” reads the letter in part.

The demands include provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) — full body gear along with N95 face masks, recruitment of additional 168 qualified medical doctors and to increase risk allowance calculated at 70% of basic salary.

The doctors also request that the Government must provide decent accommodation or instead provide non-taxable house allowance (calculated as 40% of the basic salary) and that the doctors should also be entitled to one duty free vehicle every five years.

The Union takes cognizance that when President Mutharika addressed the nation on April 4 to declare the National Disaster, he had demanded the immediate recruitment of health workers and increase in the risk allowance for health workers as some of the measures to curb the virud pandemic.

“The cornerstone of prevention of Coronavirus is to protect oneself and to help prevent its spread others,” says the letter. “Doctors have a major role in diagnosing and treating Covid-19 patients.

“Medical doctors are at a high risk of contracting the virus considering that they are on the frontline in managing Covid-19 patients.

“Currently, the public hospitals are out of capacity to purchase the necessary PPEs from their drug budget.”

On recruitment of more health workers, the Union says it has been complaining all along on the increase workload due to shortage of medical doctors in public hospitals and that despite the recommended legal working hours of 42.5 per week, they are forced to work up to 60 hours per week.

“The State President realised the importance of recruiting health workers to support the national response to Covid-19.”

In asking for the increase in the risk allowance — which they add should  be non-taxable — the Union says doctors are at the frontline of the Covid-19 outbreak response and as such are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection.

“Hazards include pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma and physical and psychological violence.”

In asking for provision of decent accommodation or instead provide non-taxable house allowance (calculated as 40% of the basic salary) the Union also points out that it has realised that in the past years there have been a huge brain drain for medical doctors.

“Every year a number of highly qualified specialists and general practitioners find greener pastures in other countries such as Namibia and Lesotho.

“The brain drain is due to poor compensation and benefits within the Ministry of Health [and] this results in increase in workload for the remaining patriotic medical doctors,” says the letter signed by the Union’s president, Dr. Collins Mitambo and secretary, Dr. Rumbidzai Mlewah.

It has also been copied to the Chief Secretary to the Government, Minister of Local Government & Rural Development and Secretaries to Local Government, Health and Treasury ministries.

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7 months ago

Malawi tazikhalani okhuzidwa osamakonda ndalama ngati ndi Mulungu.Awa ogwira ntchito zipatala akusowa zowatetezera ndi nthendayi ya covid 19 koma mwatenga 1bn nkupatsa getrude beam trust pamene ofuna thandizo kumawataya muli ndi nsambi ndithu mr tippex mutu wanu sugwira takapumeni inu akhalepo ena

Chiswa B
Chiswa B
7 months ago

Kodi were you writing this while high on pethyden, or some illegal stuff? Are these long standing demands or in response to the demands of the pandemic?

chimanga
7 months ago

Exit Lawyers enter Medical doctors

Kambewa Chisale
7 months ago

Yes you deserve all what you are asking for. In fact you guys deserve more incentive with this coronavirus. You will be in front line and taking a risk t. The government must lock down all pubs and places of entertainment

Kangaude Mukhonde
Kangaude Mukhonde
7 months ago

You deserve more than what younare asking. It’s only fair to consider your proposal. I wish Governemnt would do more. To all those that really needed a doctor in theor lives at some point will agree with me. This noble profession is too risky. Thanks that you serve and save lives.
My plea to our Doctors is to continue working hard more especially now and may God bless you all and protect you. Amen

Bauleni
7 months ago

Munalumbira .. sizothawa pano.. go to work pronto!!!

Kambewa chisale
7 months ago
Reply to  Bauleni

Foseki
They need protective equipment or they will end up themselves on a deathbed.

K.kagalu.
K.kagalu.
7 months ago

Zayambika zikatero, inu ma Dokotala Malawi Government has ndalama zambili zina titenge zija za ma Stadium awiri tikupatseni ma guy mukugwila ntchito inu. K1.6 billion ikwana. Za phada zithe.

Hardy
Hardy
7 months ago

I don’t blame them. It’s happening in many African countries.Medical staff don’t have the gear and refuse to treat patients. At the end of the day, they too are people.

Nsanje-Lalanje
Nsanje-Lalanje
7 months ago

is it only Doctors who are at risk? how about nurses and other allied medical professionals in the hospital?

Kambewa chisale
7 months ago
Reply to  Nsanje-Lalanje

All front line medical staff are at risk. A malawi stay home lockdown means all pubs to close ,entertainment places to shut.and follow guide lines laid down by the government, or We will all perish together.

Ban Wera
Ban Wera
7 months ago

Duty free vehicle due to corona virus?

Kambewa chisale
7 months ago
Reply to  Ban Wera

Fu. Ministers do get duty free cars apart from using government vehicles

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