Malawi nurses at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe are complaining of working under less than suitable conditions saying they live in “substandard houses in shanty” townships and have petitioned government to give them decent accommodation.
The petition has been signed by 51 nurses who also ask to be allocated at institutional houses close to the hospital.
“Nurses are forced to rent substandard houses in shanty outskirts far from work station,” the petition seen by Nyasa Times read.
“This has negative implications on both health workers and patient care. Considering nurses work 24 hours, living in such locations poses a security risk to their families, belongings as well as their lives.”
The nurses added: “In some instances nurses would not make proper handover at the change of shifts because they want to rush for transport to their respective conditions thereby compromising nursing care to the patients.”
“All houses belonging to the Kamas Central Hospital should be surrendered to hospital staff, Government through Malawi Housing and Ministry of Lands should make decent housing accessible to nurses, there could be a subsidy for nurses in private houses and there should be deliberate attempt to construct more houses at the hospital which is located at a place with poor accessibility.”
National Organisation of Nurses in Malawi (NONM) president Jonathan Abraham Gama said there are numerous challenges facing Malawi Nurses and Midwives including student nurses in the country such as Human resource for health crisis, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and others.
Malawi has a Nurse/patient ratio of 36.8 nurses per 100,000 population in sharp contrast to World Health Organization recommendation of 100 nurses per 100,000 population.
In Malawi only 56 percent of health Centres satisfy the staffing norm of two nurses, two medical assistants and one environmental health officer per health centre.
According to Gama, the reality is that many health workers are “reluctant to work in remote or inaccessible areas due to lack of decent housing, essential services and social amenities.”