At least 90 junior medical doctors are yet to be recruited six months after they completed their internship in May 2019.
The junior doctors graduated in 2017 and worked for 18 months as house officers, a prerequisite for them to be registered with Medical Council of Malawi.
One of the junior doctors, who opted not to be known, said after they completed the training, the government promised to hire them after passing the 2019/20 national budget.
The doctor said reports which they are getting indicate that the Ministry of Health has only been given one-third of the required money for the recruitment process, about K500 million.
“From what we have been told, the government wants to hire all of us, including a group of nurses, midwives and other medical attendants. Now that would require a lot of money and it may take up to February next year. Our worry is that we are staying idle and others may be pushed to look for jobs elsewhere,” he said.
This comes when the ministry has shortage of personnel at technical level of all cadres such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians and medical engineers.
In 20I8, World Health Organisation (WHO) said Malawi ranks as one of the countries with an acute shortage of health workers. WHO recommends a doctor-to-patient ratio of 1: 1,000 but in Malawi, the ratio is estimated at 1: 24,000.
In 2017, Universal Health Coverage Coalition revealed that the country’s health system vacancy rate is 45 percent which is a threat to quality health care delivery.
Medical Doctors Union of Malawi President, Dr Collins Mitambo, said they had received complaints from 77 doctors who graduated from College of Medicine but are awaiting recruitment.
“The government has done nothing to employ and maintain the doctors on the payroll. As such, most of them are just staying at home regardless of their passion to serve Malawians.
“Unemployment of these doctors had resulted in increasing the workload for the few health workers. This results in poor quality of care and avoidable death especially among children and pregnant women. Malawi has a huge gap in patient-to-doctors ratio, as such, we need more recruitment of doctors and health workers in general,” he said.
He said they would engage the Ministry of Health and the concerned doctors for the expedition of the recruitment process.
Ministry of Health spokesperson, Joshua Malango, Sunday assured that the budget has just been passed and the process of recruiting the doctors through Local Government authorities has begun.