True to their word, health workers at Zomba Central Hospital (ZCH) on Monday downed their tools to force the Ministry of Health to remove four members of the hospitalâ€™s management team.
The strike has not come as a surprise since the disgruntled staff wrote the ministry giving it a 10-day ultimatum to remove the four or face unspecified action.
Vice-President Khumbo Kachali, who is also Minister of Health, met the staff on June 23, but the current situation on the ground confirms that the meeting did not yield positive results.
The workers want hospital director Dr Mathias Joshua, chief nursing officer a Mrs Nyirenda, chief hospital administrator Matthew Mataka and human resource officer Peter Nangwale to be removed.
Monday morning, the striking employees closed the gates leading to the hospital and only allowed patients and guardians to enter.
The four embattled management team members were not allowed into the hospital premises.
Meanwhile, the workers have only deployed skeleton staff to attend to patients in the wards. However, no vehicle belonging to the health facility is being allowed to leave the hospital.
No official from the hospitalâ€™s administration was available for comment and the ministryâ€™s public relations officer Henry Chimbali was not answering his phones.
But on Sunday, Chimbali confirmed that the staff did communicate their intention to strike from Monday.
He expressed surprise with the move since the minister assured them that their concerns would be addressed.
â€œOur position is that some changes will start this week, but management cannot be removed just like that. They need to give us sometime so that we can be looking at each issue separately,â€ said Chimbali.
ZCH is the main referral centre for the Eastern Region covering Zomba, Machinga, Mangochi and Balaka districts.