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Concern over 52% health sector salary top-up

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Tension is slowly rising among medical practitioners in the country following rumours making rounds that government is planning to remove 52 percent salary top-up for nurses and healthcare workers.

The health workers are raising the alarm after observing that since the phasing out of the health Sector Wide Approach (SWAp), the government separated the 52 percent top-up from their monthly salary.

National Organization of Nurses in Malawi (Nonm) president Dorothy Ngoma has told Malawi News that her organisation is suspicious of the changes in the new salary structure for the nurses and other medical practitioners.

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She adds that under the previous structure, the salary was given as a lump sum.

For many years, salaries for health workers included the 52 percent top-up from SWAp, but it is being captured as a separate allowance, independent of the salary.

This has raised fears among the health workers that it could be an indication by Capital Hill of its intention to remove the allowance anytime.

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“I think government may silently take this away, as it is now just an allowance,” fears Ngoma.

She further claimed government has adopted the new salary methodology without consulting medical practitioners’ unions and representatives from organisations in medical sector.

“Previously, when the matter was being discussed, we were invited to give our input, but now we are not part of the decision, which is a clear indication that government has sinister plans,” she said. “We are very alert and are not taking this lightly.”

At the peak of brain drain when nurses and midwives left the country en masse for greener pastures abroad, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), through SWAp, provided 52 percent salary top-up for the health workers to entice them to stay home.

But after SWAp was phased out in 2011, government reluctantly adopted the 52 percent salary top-up and it was extended to all healthcare workers.

Secretary for Health, Dan Namarika has downplayed the fears, insisting nothing has changed in the salary structure for the health workers.

“From July this year, government decided to put the health workers top up salary at a fixed rate. What was happening under the previous arrangement was that with every salary increment, the 52 percent was doubling, hence other workers were receiving double their salaries,” Namarika said.

Namalika has, however, indicated that government is also considering the review of the salary structures.

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