As cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) rise in the country, Medical Doctors Union of Malawi (Mdum) has written government to consider giving them professional and risk allowances.
The doctors want a non-taxable risk allowance at 70 percent of their salary as well as a professional allowance of 70 percent of their basic salary.
Mdum president Collins Mitambo said in an interview yesterday they currently get K1 800 and K2 800 as risk and professional allowance, respectively, which is too low.
The doctors have since penned the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus with a list of their demands, including provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and accommodation.
In the letter co-signed by Mitambo and the union’s secretary Rumbidzai Milewah, Mdum states that members have been complaining of an increase in workload due to shortage of medical doctors in public hospitals.
Reads the letter in part: “Medical doctors are in the frontline of the Covid-19 response. As such they are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection.
“Therefore, medical doctors are demanding the following: A risk allowance calculated as 70 percent of the basic salary. In addition, the professional allowance should be 70 percent of the basic salary. These allowances should be non- taxable….”
Their demand for risk and professional allowances is also premised on the observation that their recommended legal working hours of 42.5 hours per week is pushed to 60 hours, which is an increase of about 17.3 extra hours per week and slightly over 58 extra hours per month.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Health and Rights Education Programme executive director Maziko Matemba urged government to consider the doctors demands.
He said: “Government needs to compare with what other countries are offering. Medical doctors are important in the fight [against Covid-19].”
In a statement issued yesterday, Matemba urged government and authorities to consider the plight of health workers as a public health priority, and ensure the recruitment of graduates as part of the declaration President Peter Mutharika made.
The President directed that the Ministry of health should recruit new 2 000 health workers in the quest to fight against covid-19.
Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 spokesperson Mark Botomani said government is looking at the welfare of all health workers as they are frontline workers in the fight against the virus.
However, he did not state whether government will take on board the demands made.