The National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives (Nonm) has postponed the strike of nurses and midwives which was slated to start today [Monday]. The organisations says it wants to rework the modalities of the strike to ensure it is well organised to prevent loss of lives.
Nurses and midwives last month said they would go on strike immediately after the festive holiday to protest government’s prolonged delays to upgrade about 6 000 nurse midwife technicians (NMTs).
The postponement of the strike comes at a time government says it has agreed to upgrade the NMTs on condition that they upgrade their qualifications. The Ministry of Health (MOH) says upgrading from nurse midwife technician grade requires to also upgrade one’s capacity.
In an interview on Sunday, NONM president Abraham Gama said the strike has been postponed because the festive holiday has disrupted their plans to have a well-organised strike which does not cost lives of patients.
“The strike is still on but it is not starting today. Our members were on holiday and we want to ensure we have good modalities for the strike at all levels, including districts.
“We want to have a well organised strike and put in place skeleton staff. The rest of the nurses and midwives will join in solidarity,” said Gama.
However, in a position paper from MoH, government says it has since approved upgrading of all nurse midwife technicians. The promotions will follow the procedure which requires the nurse and midwife technicians to upgrade their qualifications first before being promoted.
“Government through the Ministry of Health and the President are in support of the upgrading of the NMTs to registered nurses. In addition, money within the Ministry of Health was identified to support the development of the curriculum for the upgrading.
“The President has also shown commitment on the need to upgrade [NMTs]. At present, the upgrading is done at Malawi College of Health Sciences (MCHS) where per year, 50 to 60 students are enrolled.
Government says it is working on modalities of increasing intake at MCHS to allow more NMTs upgrade their qualifications and then be “procedurally” promoted in the system.
However, Gama said government has been dilly-dallying on its own commitment to upgrade the NMTs within one year following last year’s directive of President Joyce Banda on the same.