Malawian heath workers boycott work over risk allowances, PPEs

Numerous health workers across Malawi are boycotting work over unmet demands to increase risk allowances as well as lack of enough Personal Protective wear (PPEs) when discharging their duty amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In most districts across the region’s most health workers are staging a sit in demanding government to quickly respond to their grievances on the allowances, recruit of more workers, as well as provision of protective wear.

According to Human resources of Nurses Coalition, Hanna Mtemang’ombe said government is not committed to provide enough protective wear to nurses to enable them discharge their duties safely.

“Government is failing to honour their promises despite assuring us that they will provide enough protective wear for us. Again an issue of adjustment of Risk allowances has not been met.

“So we will not work until this issue is sorted out because we are putting our lives at risk as well amid this COVID-19 pandemic and again recruit more workers as they promised ,” said Mtemang’ombe

A nurse working at Mulanje District Hospital in the southern Malawi, Mirriam Mazunda said it is not safe to work without protective wear amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mazunda said they are working without protective wear but just aprons which is not practical in as far as their life is concerned.

“The COVID-19 is deadly yet we are working without PPE. Sometimes what we use is just any other mask and not the recommended N95 Masks. Even the allowances that we are given is very small. We are getting MK1800 (about 2.5 dollars) a month which is not in enough with the risks we are in,” said Mazunda

In districts like Mzimba, in the northern region of Malawi, patients are being told to go and seek medical assistance in private hospitals.

“I have traveled a distance of about 35 kilometers to get to the hospital but I am being told to go to private hospital because the medical staff are on sit in,” said Eunice Msimuko

Meanwhile the government through the Ministry of Health has not responded to the issues but has released a circular indicating the revision of risk allowances for the workers, with a minimum of MK20,000 and MK60,000 (26.5 and 80 USD) for the lowest grade and highest grade respectively.

Government has so far recruited total of 755 health workers out of 2000 as announced by Malawi President Peter Mutharika.

Executive Director for Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), George Jobe said Government has delayed to provide the health workers with the protective wear despite announcing that they are procuring saying it is very hard to work without the gears especially on the serious pandemic as COVID-19.

Jobe said as MHEN, they would love if resolutions are, made as soon as possible to sort out the challenges listed by the health workers.

Malawi has a total of 17 cases of coronavirus.

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