The newly elected National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (Nonm) on Thursday met Minister of Health and Population Atupele Muluzi over government’s delay to recruit nurses.
Nonm President, Shouts Simeza said the meeting with the Minister who was along with the Secretary for Health, Dr. Dan Namarika and Principal Nursing Officer, Felix Matemba was aimed at honouring the Minister’s invitation extended to them during last year’s Biennial General Meeting (BGM) for the organisation.
He said during the BGM, Nonm petitioned government through the Minister, a number of concerns ranging from lack of career progression and professionalization, recruitment of additional nurses and midwives, pension scheme for nurses and midwives working in Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) and inhumane working conditions in some government and CHAM health facilities.
“In our last year’s petition we raised several issues that concern our profession. As Nonm, we are particularly concerned with government delay in recruiting additional nurses and midwives. We also emphasised on the need for nurses and midwives to have protective wear and professional uniforms,” said Simeza.
Simeza said, for instance; there are currently over 2000 unemployed nurses and midwives who are looking for employment amidst a 66 percent vacancy rate of nurses and midwives in the country.
“By recruiting additional nurses and midwives, we are going to address the acute shortage of the clinical setting in the country. Mwanza district, for example; has only 29 nurses and midwives on the ground and this is out of 189 nurses and midwives on the establishment,” he said.
The Nonm President who is also the Principal for St. John’s Nursing College in Mzuzu suggested to the Ministry to consider centralising the issue of protective wear and uniforms and at the same time issuing a policy direction to local councils to prioritise these two issues in the budgets.
Taking his turn, Muluzi said the Ministry is aware of the shortage of nurses and midwives across the country and as such government is doing something to address the challenge.
“Let me reassure you that the Ministry of Finance has committed increased resources for the recruitment of health workers including nurses and midwives. The Ministry has also received a grant from the Global Fund which has been earmarked for the recruitment of health workers and the Ministry has prioritised employment of Nurses and Midwives,” said Muluzi.
He said within the last financial year, his Ministry promoted 1,300 Nurse Midwife Technicians to Senior Nurse Midwife Technician Grade J and this financial year they plan to promote more nurses and midwives.
Muluzi said government and the Ministry of Health and Population in particular is committed to working with Nonm on the issues raised in the petition so as to ensure that personal, professional and socio-economic lives of nurses and midwives are improved.
Meanwhile, Simeza said his organisation and its members would like to see government acting on the issues affecting the nursing and midwifery professional with urgency and threatened that if no action is taken, they will resort to down-tools.
Nonm is an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental union and professional organisation representing nurses and midwives of Malawi. Its membership includes registered nurse-midwives, nurse-midwife technicians, community midwifery assistants, retired nurse-midwives and students’ nurse-midwives.