The Ministry of Health (MoH) says it will this year, recruit 800 workers including nurses and midwives under the 2018/20 Global Fund grant. The recruitment will start this month.
This comes in the wake of massive shortage of nurses and midwives in the country’s public health facilities with both Association of Malawian Midwives (Amami) and National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives (Nomn) saying the situation is forcing their respective members to work under stressful conditions.
Reacting to the development, Nonm president Dorothy Ngoma urged government to increase the number considering the staffing demands in the country’s public health facilities.
She indicated that there is about 60 percent space in the nursing workplace which needs to be filled. She added that the situation is pathetic and unfortunate considering that each year hundreds of nurses and other health professionals are trained and graduate but government is failing to recruit them.
“One thing I should put across is that the number is minimal. I wish it had recruited up to 2000 nurses to ease pressure in our hospitals. Another concern is that these are just plans and we are not sure whether they will indeed be implemented because our government is fond of making promises,” said Ngoma.
According to Nonm over 3 000 nurses and other health professionals are just staying at home, three years after graduating from different colleges.
This is despite the fact that, according to the Annual Economic Report for 2016, there are just below 4 000 filled posts in the nursing cadre against 13 600 established posts tasked with providing the frontline care.
Re-elected Amami president Ann Phoya recently said with the ever growing population, Malawi needs more trained midwives.
In 2016, the White Ribbon Alliance released a report which indicate that Malawi has a gap of 20, 217 midwives. It further indicated that Malawi has a population of about 3,420 midwives against a population of 4.1 million women of child bearing age.
But MoH spokesperson Joshua Malango explained that using the $8 million (around K6 billion) under the previous Global Fund grant to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the ministry managed to recruit about 600 health workers in 2017.
He said the 800 health workers will be recruited under the 2018/20 Global Fund grant following clearance from the human resources department.
“What happens is that we seek clearance from the HR department before we start recruiting in projects of this kind so that when the project ends, the department is able to take them in and put them on the government payroll. We do not want a situation whereby people are employed and when the projects end they are left to go due to lack of proper planning or funds,” he said.
On the recent press Statement by the United Nations Children’s Fund which challenged government to step up neonatal health care in 2018, Malango said the ministry acknowledging that midwives play an important role in achieving neonatal health care has lined up a number of programmes aimed at ensuring efficiency and promoting health services in the year 2018.
Said Malango: “The ministry has just promoted 3000 health workers and we are planning to fill their previous posts. Right now we are developing plan for 2018/19 fiscal year which include improving quality care that is in human resource, equipments, facilities, diagnostic services, promoting efficient as well as use of resources.
“We also want to ensure that reforms agendas have been finalised and that all health-related outstanding bills are finalized and passed by Parliament during the June sitting; these are Pharmacy and Poison Board Bill and Nutrition Bill.”
Malango further said the ministry will be working on making sure that all stakeholders understand the issues of decentralization to see to it that everything is working in line with the 2017/22 Health Service Strategic Plan.
The health sector is the country’s third largest in terms of funding allocations in the 2017/18 National Budget representing nearly 10 percent of the total budget.