Health surveillance assistants (HSAs), the frontline cadres in most public health facilities, have threatened to abandon their roles on April 12 2021 if Ministry of Health does not address their grievances.
In a letter giving notice of the impending strike addressed to Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dr. Charles Mwansambo, the 5 000-strong cohort of HSAs recruited in 2008 under The Global Fund on temporary basis, among other things, argue that the Malawi Government has over the years failed to define their contractual status and conditions of service.
They say they are yet to sign contractual forms which has made them work on temporary basis since 2008.
Further, the HSAs want government to pay dues deducted from their salaries in 2008 and contractual benefits owed to them from 2008 to 2010.
“It should be stated clearly here that all the 5 000 Global Fund HSAs will call off the stay away should the government show commitment to define the condition of service and above all pay off the contractual benefits together with death benefits,” reads the letter in part co-signed by the group’s chairperson Kennedy Mbandambanda and three other members.
In an interview yesterday, Mbandambanda said the concerned HSAs have resolved to resort to industrial action after trying all the available avenues to engage governance on the matter.
In a quest to seek a solution, the HSAs referred their grievances to the Office of the Ombudsman which on November 18 2020 directed the Ministry of Health to resolve the issue by February 28 2021.
Mbandambanda said the Ministry of Health deducted K2 000 from the HSAs then initial K9 000 monthly pay in 2008.
In the determination, Ombudsman Martha Chizuma directed Ministry of Health to ensure that all the complainants signed the forms that put them on permanent contracts.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said there are 9 526 HSAs in the country, meaning that if the 5 000 down their tools, only 48 percent will be available for work.
On the grievances, he asked for more time to consult on the status..