Nurses urge government to employ more health workers

Lilongwe: Concerned unemployed Nurses and Midwives (CUNM) have urged government to employ more health workers in order to address health issues in government hospitals.

Speaking during a recent press briefing at Crown Hotel in Lilongwe, CUNM Chairperson, Dalitso Dulani, said most of the problems government health facilities are facing were due to inadequate health personnel.

We are having critical shortage of nurses and midwives, yet there are many of us who are out here unemployed and this has caused serious impact, not only on the lives of innocent Malawians, but also on us as nurses, Dulani said.

He added that employing more nurses and midwives will reduce mortality rate which is caused by poor health care as a result of shortage of workers. He said employing more workers will improve the quality of health care.

In 2015-2016 the Malawi Demographic Health Survey found that maternal mortality rate was 439 deaths per 1000 live births.

Some of the issues that will be solved if we are employed are long waiting time for people accessing services in the hospitals, he said.

In a press statement released last week Thursday, dated September 13, 2018 on Appraisal of the situation regarding nurse recruitment, the Ministry of Health said it recognizes the many staff vacancies, including those for nurses in health facilities, but it has a challenge of funding.

The Department of Human Resources manages a very tight budget that covers a specific establishment of personnel. As the Government seeks to achieve better management of our resources, we have not been able to automatically recruit all graduating staff, the statement reads in part.

In 2016, 1084 nurses graduated followed by a further 1273 nurses in 2017. Out of these, the ministry has recruited 691 staff; 170 Nursing Officers, 431 Nurse Midwife Technicians and 261 Community Midwife assistants.

There are some current vacancies across the health sector, many of which are funded through the support we receive from development partners such as the Global Fund and PEPFAR.

Currently, there are 334 Nursing Officers (Grade I) posts and 5,648 Nurse Midwife Technician (Grade K) posts that the Ministry of Health and Population is working to fill, the statement further reads.

The ministry also expressed regret that it is unable to recruit more health staff.

We really do need more staff, however, at the moment; we simply do not have the funds to pay for them. I will not commit to recruit staff I cannot pay for not only does that endanger our health budget, it wrongly sets expectations for young people that can’t be met.

We must find a solution to address the problem of qualified personnel unable to find work. This is not acceptable and extremely unfair to our young people who have worked so hard to graduate, they deserve more than that, says the press statement.

Meanwhile, the minister of health has planned to meet chancellors of the nursing and midwifery colleges to discuss balancing the projected vacancies with the student classes and find a solution to the situation.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA