Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Sheilla Bandazi says it is encouraging that nursing graduates are now opting to work in district hospitals instead of the central hospitals as was the case before.
Bandazi was speaking on the sidelines of the presentation of scholarships to Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) students by the Global Aids Interfaith Alliance (Gaia) at the weekend.
She said there are several factors that are attracting nurses to district hospitals, including availability of accommodation.
“We have seen a change in trends in the preference of stations where graduate nurses want to be posted. In previous years, most of the graduates preferred to be posted in central hospitals, but the problem of housing in cities has made them opt for district hospitals.
“If one has been sent to Ntcheu, he or she knows that there is a house waiting for them while in cities they have to live far from the hospital and commute to work using minibuses, which is costly,” said Bandazi.
She also said many nurses are no longer seeking greener pastures abroad, preferring to join local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) instead.
“As one way of addressing some of the challenges that has led to the mass exodus of nurses, the ministry has introduced salary top-ups for healthcare workers, offering scholarships to the staff and building houses through the Umoyo Project,” said Bandazi.
Principal of KCN Professor Address Malata commended Gaia and the United States government for the scholarships which she said will assist government in its efforts to retain staff.
Gaia international programmes director Ellen Schell urged the students to work hard because they are entering the nursing profession at an important time when the country has got only 34 nurses for every 100 000 Malawians compared to around 400 for the same number of people in South Africa.