A national crisis looms large after nurses and other staff in public hospitals have threatened to join ongoing civil servants’ stay-away if government fails to heed their grievances within 14 days..
The threat paints a grim picture for over 90 per cent of Malawians who rely on public hospitals for medical and health care services.
Civil servants are pushing for salary increment and improved working conditions. Civil Servants Trade Union has asked the workers in hospitals and other essential services to join the strike action to make it possible for “ordinary people to start feeling the pinch”
But government has assured that it is “fully committed” to reaching a “mutually satisfactory resolution” to the crisis, according to McPhail Magwira, an Education Ministry official who heads up the state’s negotiating team.
National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (Nonm), a non-governmental organisation that represents nurses, midwives and student nurses/midwives, has said they will join the strike if their demands are not met in the next 14 days.
Nonm president Jonathan Abraham-Gama said it was only fair that the salaries of nurses and midwives as well as all Public Servants be increased to meet the high cost of living prevailing in the country.
“Nurses just like any civil servant, are not spared from the economic hardship,” Gama said.
Since President Joyce Banda assumed power following the death of Bingu Wa Mutharika last year, a series of austerity programmes have been introduced to improve the country’s economy which was in dire straits after Mutharika had alienated international donors with his hardline policies.
He died last year of a heart attack.