The Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued a circular to all district health officers (DHO) urging them to be vigilant in instilling discipline and adherence to the professional code of conduct among medical officers in public health facilities.
In the circular, signed by Secretary for Health McPhail Magwira, which Weekend Nation has seen, the ministry says it has noted with concern that there have been incidents where wards in the country’s public facilities have been left without a nurse/clinician to attend to patients due to improper hand-over of patients between the out-going team on duty and the in-coming team.
Said Magwira in the secular: “This is not only unprofessional, but also unethical as it compromises the quality of care given to patients, hence contributing to deaths which could have otherwise been prevented through timely intervention.”
He has since implored DHOs and their management teams to ensure constant availability of nurses and clinicians around the clock in all wards, the outgoing team on duty to make formal and physical hand-over of patients to the incoming team and ensure availability of well setup and coordinated emergency team.
“Be reminded that you, as DHOs, are required to lead by example in the provision of hands-on services.
“Any DHO who does not comply should be reported to my office for appropriate disciplinary action,” said Magwira.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe, in an interview on Wednesday, commended the ministry for the step it has taken saying it will help address some of the challenges patients are facing in the country’s public facilities.
“We have not yet done any research to establish the gravity of the situation, but we have received many reports on this. This is why we are empowering Hospital Advisory Committees (Hac) to lead in monitoring and spelling out such unprofessional conduct in the country’s health facilities,” said Jobe.
National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives (Nomn) president Dorothy Ngoma, who acknowledged seeing the secular, condemned the unethical conduct of some nurses calling it regrettable.
In recent months, the media has been awash with reports of medical personnel being suspended or arrested for unethical conduct, with some suspended for neglecting patients, stealing drugs and mistreating patients. n