Health activists have urged government to punish health workers who demand money from patients in exchange for free services in public hospitals.
Both the Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) and Midwives Council of Malawi (MCM) made the call yesterday in reaction to a press statement from the Ministry of Health that condemned the practice by some health workers.
The experts observed that government can curb the exploitation of patients by ensuring that hospitals have enough medicines and well-supervised personnel.
In an interview yesterday, Mhen executive director Gorge Jobe welcomed the move by government, saying such conduct infringes on the rights of poor Malawians.
He said: “We have been receiving concerns that patients in most public hospitals are forced to pay for services. Those without money are denied health care service which is bad.”
On her part, MCM executive director Dorothy Ngoma attributed the malpractice to a number of reasons which are indicative of a broken system in the health sector.
She said: “Supervisors are not there in most cases and if they are, they are very few. If the system is disorganised, you cannot expect something good out of it,” she said.
In his remarks, MoH spokesperson Joshua Malango said some health workers have already been summoned for disciplinary hearing following concerns by some patients that they demanded money for health services.
The statement issued on Tuesday, signed by MoH Principal Secretary Dan Namarika, states that government’s policy for provision of free health service to its citizens is still in force.