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Ministry leaves graduate doctors in suspense

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At least 50 graduate doctors that were deployed at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre and Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe as interns in August 2014 have queried the Ministry of Health for unpaid dues for January 2016.

The medical doctors were deployed to the two referral health facilities after graduating from College of Medicine in June 2014 and have been working there up to now where they were receiving an upkeep allowance of K120,000 per month.

Government stopped paying them the upkeep allowance at the end of their 18-month internship in December 2015.

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According to a memo which The Daily Times has seen addressed to Secretary for Health, QECH Hospital Director, among others, dated January 26, 2016, the doctors were paid an upkeep allowances of K50,000 each for the month of January which they argue is not enough to cater for their needs.

“As much as we appreciate their effort, we feel there is more that could be done not only by them but by you. The first option that we have done is that our salaries be processed and we get them this month.

“We understand that our government is not good in doing things fast and that they are standard operating procedures at any point, but you can also agree with us that every golden rule does have an exception and this time around we are asking that our request be responded to with speed because for a fact, there is someone who gets paid to get such things done and, therefore, they must take responsibility to go to work,” reads the memo in part.

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In the memo, the doctors have gone further by asking the Ministry of Health to pay them the arrears for January and not to give them an advance salary.

One of the doctors we spoke to on condition of anonymity said they were expected to be employed after completing their internship in December.

“It has surprised us to notice that instead of getting an employment, government has decided to dump us without giving us any notice,” said the source.

When contacted for comment, Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume referred this reporter to Principal Secretary MacPhail Magwira, saying the issue was operational in nature.

Magwira said the doctors should not panic because government is aware of the predicament they have experienced.

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