Written by Ivy Tunkete Mwanyongo:
A group of about 5 thousand unemployed nurses and midwives, many of whom are currently working on a locum and upkeep basis in Malawi, is moving forward with its plans to stage a strike due to the Ministry of Health’s ongoing failure to address their concerns.
The group’s Chairperson, Peter Kabaghe expressed frustration over the ministry’s reluctance to hire them permanently instead of relying on them as locum workers, which they view as exploitative.
He said it is unfortunate that the government is ignoring their call, while there is a high shortage of health workers in public hospitals, which is compromising delivery of quality health services.
Kabaghe stated, “We requested the Ministry of Health to consider recruiting us because the monthly packages that we earn are making us live in unbearable conditions considering the current economic challenges”.
Furthermore, Kabaghe pointed out that, despite their critical roles, it often takes months for them to receive their payments, which he deemed as worrisome. Consequently, the group has decided to withdraw their services beginning October 5th, 2023, until a mass recruitment of nurses and midwives is carried out.
In response, Adrian Chikumbe, Spokesperson in the Ministry of Health, revealed that discussions are underway with the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives (NONM), the groups mother body, to address their concerns.
Chikumbe also stressed that the recruitment process cannot be completed within a short timeframe and that proper procedures must be followed.
“Even if they gave us a month ultimatum, it would not work because the recruitment process demands several procedures. We have been in talks with their mother body, and they seem to understand what we are trying to communicate”, said Chikumbe.
He also disclosed that the Ministry is actively working to secure an increase in the national budget allocation, with the aim of using the additional funds to hire more health workers, including the nurses and midwives.
However, despite these developments, the group remains resolute in its stance to proceed with the strike and nationwide demonstrations unless their demands are met.