Donors have come to the rescue of government which will now recruit nurses and newly graduated doctors for deployment to public health facilities nationwide, it has been learnt.
Information The Nation has sourced show that government will use money from the Global Fund on Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/Aids to pay the health workers in a bid to ease the shortage of staff in the sector.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe confirmed the development in an interview on Tuesday, saying: “Yes, it is true that we have some money to employ these people.
“From the Global Fund, there was some money which remained and after talks with the donors, they agreed and gave us the okay to employ these people on condition that government takes over responsibilities after a year.”
He said K6 billion has been channelled to rescue the nurses and doctors.
The development means that after a year, the new recruits will exert a further strain on government’s wage bill which experts, including International Monetary Fund (IMF) have previously cautioned to be on the higher side at 25 percent of the national budget.
The challenge will thus be in sustainance when the donor funds are exhausted. But Gondwe expressed optimism that government would continue paying the health professionals.
He said: “Government will do all it can to sustain these people. We will provide employment to all nurses and doctors.”
The decision has come against a background of a U-turn by government on its earlier offer to recruit the 300 plus nurses/midwifery technicians and medical doctors owing to lack of funds.
Besides the local doctors and nurses/midwifery technicians, government is also embroiled in accusations of prematurely terminating scholarships for 23 doctors undergoing specialist training in South Africa.
The Society of Medical Doctors and National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives in Malawi condemned government’s apparent abandoning of the fresh graduates at a time the country’s health sector is facing critical shortage of staff leading to poor service delivery, especially in the public health facilities.
In the ongoing sitting of Parliament, some members of Parliament (MPs) have also described government’s indecision on the issue as an indication of priorities put upside down. n