Malawi News has established that 473 youths who were under government’s paid Youth Internship Programme are in dilemma as government has told them to stop reporting for work.
The interns were working in various district hospitals across the country as medical assistants, clinical technicians, optometry technicians and laboratory technicians.
Alias Kumwenda, a representative of Intern Health Workers, told Malawi News that last month all the interns that were working in the districts were told to stop reporting for work.
“We were recruited last year November by government to a full-salary internship according to respective grades, we signed GP1 forms as if we were being given full-time jobs after completing our internship but, to our surprise, 11 months into our internships, all district hospitals have sent us home,” Kumwenda said.
He said the recruitment came after they stayed for three years at home after completion of their respective courses and received valid papers from Medical Council of Malawi.
Ministry of Health (MoH) spokesperson Joshua Malango confirmed the termination of the internships.
“Internship is a non-established position and has timeline for each cadre, as such, that internship had a period and it has come to an end,” Malango said.
He said what is remaining is for the interns to go through normal and competitive recruitment process in which they are expected to apply for the positions which will be advertised soon.
But Malango’s statement is contradicting what he told the media in November last year that the ministry gave local councils powers to recruit the medical officers.
He said the devolving of powers was part of MoH’s plan to recruit several workers including nurses and midwives.
National Organisation for Nurses and Midwives president Shouts Semeza said it is a pity that the medical assistants who government promised to recruit and were serving people in the rural areas have had their internship terminated.
He said it is clear that government has a rotten system, asking as to why did the same government last year assure his organisation that it will recruit the health workers after passing of 2019/2020 budget.
“Let me tell you that things are getting out of hand, if government continues playing tricks on recruitment of medical personnel in the country, they should not regret the next action we are planning to do, and enough is enough,” Semeza said while suggesting to hold an industrial action countrywide if government fails to recruit them.
Government rolled out the K4.8 billion internship programme in 2018 with a core aim of empowering the youth and expose them to various skills in, among others, agriculture, information and communications technology, manufacturing and small-scale mining as they gain experience in the process.