Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume on Friday warned medical personnel who demand bribes from patients, saying his ministry will take drastic action against them.
Reports indicate that some workers in public health facilities take bribes to offer patients such services as anti-retroviral therapy (ART), X-ray, orthopaedic and surgical treatment.
He said this at St Joseph’s College of Nursing and Midwifery at Nguludi, Chiradzulu, when he presided over the handover of K2.5 billion facilities built by the Clinton Health Access Initiative (Chai) with financial support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in seven health facilities across the country.
“These are people who want to benefit beyond the salary that government provides them despite that the training institutions where they got their training as well as the entire training which they got was provided for by government.
“We will not hesitate to fire these people so that they can go ahead and continue their behaviour at their clinics and not in public hospitals where services are for free,” he said.
Kumpalume also warned rude health workers, saying he will not tolerate such behaviour in 2017 and, if found, they will be fired right away.
He said rudeness is the last thing patients deserve from health workers and government will do all it can to arrest the situation during this year.
“Ministry of Health trains health workers practically and theoretically, but unfortunately it does not change their mindset. We have got quite a number of people that work in the health sector, they are just a reflection of the society that we live in and I have said this before, the healthcare sector is very different from other professions because we deal with people who are vulnerable as such we need the heart as well as the skills.
“We do not sieve out in terms of people’s attitude and, unfortunately, we have some bad apples, there are few of them, but they make the health sector what it is to be.
“So, this message is for them. This year is the year that we want to arrest the situation to make sure that everybody that works in the health sector actually adheres to the oath of office that they take,” said Kumpalume.
In his remarks, Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) board chairperson the Reverend Timothy Nyasulu, whose institution also trains health workers, echoed Kumpalume’s sentiments, saying from the Christian point of view, healing begins when the one who is helping you communicates with you.
“Welcoming words to a patient already starts the healing process and when it comes to the actual process of administering medication, the process gets finalised.
“So, indeed there is need to change the mindset because the people we are dealing with are psychologically affected already as patients. So coming with words that are unfriendly makes the medication not to work,” said Nyasulu in an interview. n