Malawian health workers begin joining nationwide strike

Health workers at Dedza District Hospital Monday morning became the first essential service providers to join the on-going nationwide civil servants’ strike which has now entered its second week.

The workers have defied a call from their mother body, National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives in Malawi (NONM), to only join the strike once government fails to act on their complaints after the two-week ultimatum, which they issued on February 14.

Setting the ball rolling, nurses, doctors, technicians and support staff at Dedza Hospital, Monday morning abandoned patients in the wards arguing they could no longer entertain government’s false piety on their demands.

“The workers have neither visited any ward nor treated any patient since morning. Actually as I am speaking, they have just gathered at the car park chatting and singing,” one guardian told Nyasa Times.strike 0

She added: “My patient [11-year-old girl whose name we have deliberately concealed] was supposed to see the doctor for a possible operation but now I don’t know what will happen next.”

A nurse at the hospital also told Nyasa Times through the guardian’s phone, they had all agreed not to resume work and will stand by Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) until the issue is resolved.

“Right now management team is locked in a meeting trying to find means of convincing us to resume work but they are just wasting their time.

“We have realized that government is deliberately buying time to act on our grievances because it knows that the most critical sector, which is health, is still running normally and saving people’s lives that is why we have abandoned our tools to show seriousness of the issue,” she explained.

She said health workers at the facility have defied NONM’s call to wait for 14 days because they do not have any trust in it.

NONM is a non-governmental organisation that represents nurses, midwives and student nurses/midwives in Malawi.

“We are civil servants and the stay away has been called by CSTU which is the body that represents us so why should we detach ourselves,” she queried.

There was no immediately comment from the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Henry Chimbali as his mobile phone could not be answered.

Malawi will be in a serious national crisis should all the country’s nurses and other workers in public hospitals decide to join the strike as over 90 per cent of the population relies on them for medical and health care services.

Teachers, who contribute a bulk of the civil servants, are yet to join the strike but have vowed to do so after some reports indicated that their leaders (in Teachers Union Malawi- TUM) have received bribes from some government agents.

Malawian civil servants started their stay away last week Monday to push the Joyce Banda administration to raise their salaries as well as improve their working conditions.

Dedza Hospital
Dedza Hospital

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