Health workers in Malawi, including doctors, have refused to work until the government provides them with personal protective equipment, PPEx; and better pay in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital Lilongwe many patients were forced to return home as there was nobody to attend to them.
Florence McDonald, mother of a patient, bemoaned the situation: “I came here on March 16 and my child was operated on, on 20 March. Up to now the wound is not healing.”
Referrals are also suffering as attested to by Masauli Mwale, a patient: “I have been referred here from Bwaila hospital but I have not been attended to because nurses are on strike.”
Footage circulating on social media on Tuesday showed doctors and nurses in uniforms outside the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital carrying placards with slogans such as “We are not going on suicide mission” and “Should my family suffer because of my calling?
The privately-owned Nation newspaper confirmed on Monday that the Ministry of Health had revised upwards the risk allowance for health workers in the wake of nationwide protests.
The case is Malawi is no different from other parts of the continent where health workers are demanding more protection in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. In Zimbabwe, health workers sued the government for lack of protection as did some unions in Nigeria.
In other countries, government has continued to roll out measures in respect of providing PPEs and extra bonuses for healthcare professional in the frontline of the COVID-19 fight.
Minister Jappie Mhango at a press briefing confirmed that Malawi has not recorded any new COVID-19 case since Friday. Addressing the media in Lilongwe Mhango further said the country has received another donation from Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma.
Mhango also confirmed that the ministry has recruited 755 health workers from the 2000 that President Peter Mutharika ordered and the recruitment is expected to be finalized this week.
BREAKING NEWS: Ministry of Health has revised upwards the risk allowance for health workers. This follows nationwide protests by healthcare workers who were demanding review of their risk allowance in the wake of #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/Cs2Fm3mKHH— NationOnline (@NationOnlineMw) April 20, 2020