Prospects for fresh nursing and midwifery graduates from St Luke’s and St Joseph’s mission colleges to be employed soonest are slim as Ministry of Health (MoH) says their recruitment into the public service is not automatic.
MoH Principal Secretary McPhail Magwira, speaking during a graduation ceremony for about 200 nurses and midwives, challenged the graduates to think entrepreneurship rather than expecting to be employed.
He said: “We have graduated around 200 nurses today and recently Malawi College of Health Sciences graduated over 1 000 nurses and all these want to be employed.
“Nowadays, for instance at these two colleges, we are not training students to be job seekers in government. We are preparing them to be competitive and be able to go entrepreneurial. The private sector is growing big and they can also seek jobs there.”
On whether some from the group would be employed, Magwira said they are discussing with the human resources office and development partners and the decision will be known when the budget is ready.
First to highlight the need for guaranteeing nurses and midwives jobs was the Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) board chair the Reverend Timothy Nyasulu who asked government to guarantee the students jobs.
He said: “Nursing is a noble job and we need to support them. We hope government will employ them, support them with medical equipment for their work, give them better remuneration and ensure salaries are paid in time. If this is done, they are encouraged to stay long. We have had cases of health personnel leaving public institutions earlier for greener pastures.”
Bishop Brighton Vitta Malasa of Anglican Upper Shire Diocese, whose church runs St Luke’s College of Nursing, challenged the students that despite several challenges in the career, they should endure and observe the bond conditions as it is key to continued support from development partners.
Students from the two colleges graduated with certificates and diplomas under a United States Agency for International Development (USAid) scholarship programme.
However, they have to wait until October to sit for the Nurses Council’s examinations which makes them eligible to practice their career.
USAid representative Ruth Madison pledged continued support in training nurses and midwives.
She said: “The country has 12 000 midwives against over 16 million people. The recommended ratio is 10 nurses for every 10 000 patients, but for every 10 000 patients, there are three nurses in Malawi. You can see that we need more nurse midwives.”
Despite this gap, government has lately delayed employment of nurses and midwives due to lack of funds to sustain them.
Last year, government reversed recruitment of 339 nurses and midwives, who had to wait for 10 months before being invited for interviews. n