Medical staff asked not to be rude, as Balaka nurses strike continues

Government has warned medical personnel particularly nurses against disregarding ethics when serving patients and under-performing as it is spending millions of Kwachas in training them.

Deputy Minister of Health Harima Daudi said it was depressing to see many health workers deliberately failing to apply what they are trained to do.

She also asked the medical workers to serve people first as theirs is a calling and stop always prioritizing monetary benefits.

The deputy minister was speaking in during the handover ceremony of Improved Health Training Project (IHTP) and youth training colleges to Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM).

Nurses have a catalogue of demands. Photo by Collins Mtika/Nyasa Times

The Norwegian Church Aid has been running the IHTP across the country for seven years and has benefited nine institutions.

The deputy minister bemoaned the tendency by most Malawian health workers who leave the country in search of greener pastures abroad instead of serving their nation.

“It is really worrisome. Government and development partners are spending huge sums of money to train them but after a few years they leave.

“We are asking them to stop going outside Malawi to provide their services. We need them here, they are trained here and let them help our brothers and sisters here in Malawi,” lamented the deputy minister.

Meanwhile, employees at Balaka District Hospital have vowed never to resume work until government redeploys four top management officers accused of financial mismanagement and ill-treatment.

The employees who have been on strike since Wednesday want the Ministry of Health headquarters to transfer the District Health Officer, Owen Chikwaza, District Medical Officer, Frank Linzie, District Nursing Officer Beta Zuza and the Hospital Administrator.

“We will not return to work even if they threaten us until these four people are removed. They don’t care about employees’ welfare, they are greedy people who only know about how to enrich themselves,” one bitter nurse said when Balaka District Commissioner Rodrick Mateauma
met the striking staff to reason with them.

Mateauma said he had been in touch with senior officials from the Ministry of Health and had been assured that they would address the issue next week.

The sit-in has forced the hospital management to recall 22 nurses and other workers who were on off duty and holiday to cover up for the strike.

Management has also hired seven medical staff from Ntcheu and Machinga District Hospitals and other health centres within Balaka to work at the health facility.

Reports indicate that the hiring of the seven and recalling of the 22 employees is costing the hospital K100 000 per day in allowance payments.

The 22 are getting K1200 if they work during day while a night shift is costing the hospital K1400. The seven hired medical staff are reportedly receiving K8000 each per day.

By the time officials from the headquarters will be visiting the place, the hospital would have lost about K1 million.

Employees at the hospital started complaining about the four last year when they wrote ministry headquarters but they were reportedly not responded hence their move to boycott work.

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