Malawi nurses threaten nationwide strike over tricked upgrading course

The National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives in Malawi (NONM) has threatened to re-mobilise nurses for a nationwide strike to protest against tricks being played by the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi (NMCM) regarding upgrading of nurse midwife technicians to state registered nurses.

Recently, government announced it had allocated K15 million to NMCM for development of the curriculum and syllabus for the one year upgrading course which was supposed to start in January next year.

The council confirmed last month having concluded the process but in a dramatic turn of events it has made a sudden U-turn saying it will not go ahead with the program as it is not feasible.

In a letter dated December 11, 2013 to NONM Executive Director, Martha Mondiwa, the council said the developed one year syllabus has too much content which could not be accommodated in one year and that it has serious deficiencies in science subjects making the implementation process difficult.

Nurses concerns

“There is a danger in safe motherhood and will worsen the national indicators and the international standards will go down.

“Career progression of one year program is not known. There is no guarantee this nurse midwife will be acceptable in the accredited institution of higher learning,” reads in part the letter signed by Mondiwa and in Nyasa Times possession.

“After lengthy discussions on the recommendations from stakeholders meeting and education subcommittee, the council agreed that we support the current two-year upgrading program taking place at Malawi College of Health Science [MCHS] to continue. Game is encouraging government and CHAM to support other colleges to take up the two-year upgrading program in addition to MCHS.

“Malawi as a nation should have one diploma which should have a clear path of upgrading directly to a degree level,” reads the letter.

The council requested education subcommittee to consult training colleges on way forward if other colleges will not be able to have the capacity of training diploma students to consider bringing back the certificate in nursing and midwifery.

NONM Executive Director, Harriet Kapyepye, said the council’s move is very unfortunate as it would have bad effects for both nurses and patients.

“On our part, it could save more nurses to remain in the profession as many of them opt to change professions because it takes long for them to become registered nurse. As for patients, nurses have limitations when treating them because if they are not a state registered nurse they can’t treat some patients resulting into many losing their lives,” she said.

The NMCM Act cap 36; 02 part IV Section 11 (a) (b) (d) states that the functions of the council are to assist in the promotion of the health of the population of Malawi.

It is also there to control and exercise authority affecting the education, training and practice of persons in, and the performance of, the practices pursued by nurses and nurse technicians.

While part IV section 12, (C) states that the council has the power to approve nurses schools in accordance with the prescribed conditions, inspects such schools, or withdraw or suspend approval of any such school if the education or training thereat is not in opinion of the council, satisfactorily carried out, or if any condition imposed has no been compiled with.

There are fears that the strike may compromise health delivery service in the country.

Malawi has slightly over 10300 nurses of which 67 percent are nurse midwife technicians who want to be upgraded to registered nurses.

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