About 450 intern health workers in the country are struggling due to government’s failure to pay them.
During spot check findings in hospitals that these frontline health workers are serving, it was established that most of them are starving and were on the verge of being evicted in houses they are renting.
In one of our encounter with a team of these devastated medics at Chitipa district hospital, it was established that one of them was tested positive for coronavirus due to his direct exposure to a Covid-19 patient.
Information made available to our reporter indicates that government has, since March, not been responsive to demands for their salaries and other benefits.
“We are living a dog’s life. No food and all basic necessities because government is not paying us since we were recruited in March this year,” disclosed one of the medics at Chitipa district hospital who pleaded to remain anonymous.
“My landlords have given me a grace period of this week only,” roared Timothy Soko, a nursing technician, working as an intern at Mzuzu Central Hospital.
“After this week,” he added, “I will have nowhere to operate from when reporting for my duties. I am worried.”
In a letter dated July 10th addressed to their line ministry and other relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of Finance, the concerned health practitioners petitioned for the immediate response to their grievances on salaries.
The letter which was signed by all their representatives from all health science colleges in the country further disclosed the disparities government has shown by underrating diploma holders from other colleges while overrating interns with degrees from College of Medicine.
“While we remain unsupported financially by the government, other Clinical intern cadres within the same ministry are being favored (i.e. medicals doctors). This becomes very unfortunate when we see the government sidelining our cadres despite the important role the clinical officers and medical assistants play in health,” reads the petition in part.
This is happening at a time coronavirus cases are escalating in the country, demanding more workforce in the health sector to safeguard the lives of Malawians.
Recently, one of the renowned survivors of the virus who is also Malawi Congress party (MCP) ICT specialist, Daudi Suleman, advised government to consider prioritizing the working conditions of health workers if the fight against this global plague is to be won.
In a follow up interview on how far the Ministry of Health has gone in pursuit of addressing concerns from these frontline health workers, Joshua Malango, who speaks for the ministry disclosed that his ministry handed the issue over to Treasury.
“We received the letter and have also written Treasury to consider supporting with resources,” said Malango.
Efforts to get views from Secretary for Treasury proved futile because the telephone went unanswered irrespective of several attempts before publishing this article.
Nonetheless, representatives of the concerned health workers said that the treasury fooled them with assurances that they would have resolved their grievances by Tuesday July 21, 2020.
Meanwhile, the intern medics are still suffering hopelessly as they thrive to save Malawians from coronavirus.