After a lengthy wait, newly graduated medical doctors, pharmacists and physiotherapists can now breathe a sigh of relief as government has finally hired them.
The health workers have waited for about five months to be taken on board after the Ministry of Health (MoH) was forced to put on hold their recruitment due to financial constraints.
The newly graduate doctors are deployed for an 18-month internship at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre immediately after graduating as they await to be issued with a certificate to practice medicine.
Representative of the junior doctors, Mphatso Phiri, confirmed in an interview yesterday about their deployment, saying most of them have already reported for duties in their respective work stations.
He said: “We commend government for its decision. Most of our colleagues already reported for work last week. It was a difficult time for us considering that this was happening for the first time for graduates to wait for that long without being placed for internship.”
The delays to hire the doctors frustrated some of them who ended up crossing borders and offering their services in other countries such as Lesotho and Mozambique.
Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume said in a separate interview the recruits started reporting for work on December 14.
He said the Ministry of Finance made available about K300 million to ensure that all the graduate doctors, pharmacists and physiotherapists who completed their training at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine in July 2015 are recruited.
The development comes at a point when there is an impasse between government and the National Organisation for Nurses and Midwives in Malawi (Nonm) over the 339 nurses that were recruited into the civil service but their appointment letters were later withdrawn by government, citing lack of funds to maintain them on the payroll.
But in November, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said government would use K6 billion from the Global Fund on Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV and Aids to recruit the doctors and nurses in a bid to ease the shortage of staff in the public health facilities.
Malawi has the doctor- patient ratio of 1:70 000 against the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended ratio of 1: 600. n