Ministry of Health (MoH) has reversed its decision not to offer contracts to 51 new graduate doctors and nurse and midwives.
The U-turn has come barely days after Medical Doctors Union and Society of Medical Doctors jointly issued an ultimatum.
The two groupings gave the government 14 days to engage the 51 new graduates or risk a nationwide strike by all medical doctors.
There were reports that the doctors had approached a union of paramedic workers to join them in the calls to hire the graduate doctors.
In an interview yesterday, MoH spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe confirmed that officials from the ministry, Department of Human Resource Management and Development (DHRMD) and Treasury held a meeting and decided to reverse the decision.
Government had earlier argued that there were no funds to support the doctors fully as they carried out their 18 months internship, but would give them a stipend.
Said Chikumbe: “Treasury has agreed that they should be offered contracts and funding will be identified. Ministry of Health does not know where the funding will come from.”
Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya said no funds have been identified yet to take on board the new doctors and nurse/midwives.
“We are currently waiting for Ministry of Health to submit a detailed human resource plan for us to be able to identify resources to employ medical doctors,” he said.
MoH had argued that the doctors would only be recruited once they completed their internship and were certified by the Medical Council of Malawi.
This was because the doctors had tended to opt out of working in public hospitals after government puts them through their education and internship.
Government through DHRMD announced recently that it would not offer jobs to the new graduate doctors and nurse/midwives due to a hiring freeze within the civil service.
But in a strongly worded statement issued this week, the doctors described the move as inexcusable and lack of seriousness for the government to fail to absorb them.