Nkhotakota District Hospital is operating with a 51 percent staff deficit, it has been learnt.
During a visit to the hospital on Thursday when Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited launched maize distribution exercise, it was learnt that staff are working on a tight schedule to meet the demand.
This is forcing some medical personnel to handle many patients against the recommended nurse-patient ratio.
In an interview, some doctors said the day shift has many medical personnel because the outpatient department is congested during day, which leaves the night shift with few medical personnel.
One doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that the hospital is facing a serious staff shortage in all departments.
She said there is always one doctor to look after a number of wards which makes the work tedious, but also risks the life of some patients who need frequent monitoring and more attention.
While resisting to comment on the issue because of the ban on district heath offices (DHOs) from speaking to the media, Nkhotakota DHO SostenLankhulani confirmed the shortfall.
“You have to talk to spokesperson for the Ministry of Health [MoH] Adrian Chikumbe. What I can say is that we really have serious problem of staff in all cadres as you have established. But if you want specifics, talk to the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Chikumbe proved futile as he could not pick his mobile phone or respond to text messages.
MoH announced recently that it would not recruit the doctors and nurses/midwives, including pharmacists and physiotherapists who had just finished their training at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine (CoM) and other institutions due to economic constraints and hiring freeze within the civil service.