Ninety-nine students pursuing certificate and diploma studies at Malamulo College of Health Sciences face expulsion after government has denied responsibility over them and is not meeting their educational costs.
Nation on Sunday has confirmed that college authorities are demanding immediate departure of the concerned students from the campus because government is refusing to foot their bills, let alone, find sponsors for them.
However, the Ministry of Health (MoH), which sponsors some students pursuing studies in Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) institutions, has pushed the blame on Malamulo College of Health Sciences (MCHS) for enrolling students outside the ministry’s sponsorship sealing.
Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF)-Belgium, which is curently sponsoring a number of students at the same college, has since wondered how both MoH and the college could allow students to enrol in the absence of financial resources.
MCHS students’ representative council (SRC) president, Owen Mwale, told Nation on Sunday early in the week that college authorities issued an ultimatum on the concerned students to either identify sponsors or leave the campus.
Mwale said the students include 25 pursuing diploma in clinical medicine, 30 studying for diploma in biomedical sciences, diploma in nursing and midwifery (24) and 15 studying for a certificate in clinical medicine.
He said the council has since written players in the health sector such as MSF and Cham to intervene.
“Our fear is that this will in the long run affect delivery of health services at the national level as the nurse-patient ratio continues to rise due to human resource constraints,” said Mwale.
MSF deputy head of mission, Nicolette Jackson, acknowledged receipt of the request from the college students’ council.
But Jackson wondered how the students found their way into the college without government or some organisation committing to footing bills for their studies.
She said: “Something seems to have gone terribly wrong with the system because they were selected as students who were going to be sponsored and have already completed their first year.”
Cham executive director Dr Mwai Makoka, in a written response to queries by MSF, pushed the blame to MoH, “which was supposed to sponsor 269 students who were admitted for the 2014/2015 academic intake at Malamulo, but has committed to paying for 170 meaning that 99 students lack sponsorship.”
Acting MoH spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe denied committing to support 269 students at the college. He said the ministry communicated to the college authorities and Cham that it would support 170 students only and that inclusion of extra students was not the ministry’s fault.
Chikumbe insisted that the ministry will not have anything to do with the 99 students because “as explained, any more students outside the arrangement are not in the responsibility of the Ministry of Health”.
Efforts to seek comments from MCHS registrar, Lydia Makondetsa, proved futile as she could not pick her phone on several attempts.
Jackson has since described the turn of events as unfair, unacceptable and irresponsible.