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Mzuzu University stand-off affects health services delivery

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The protracted strike by Mzuzu University (Mzuni) staff is said to be taking a toll on the country’s health sector as the university is failing to supply close to 300 nursing students for internship in various health facilities in the country.

Health activist, George Jobe, said the student- nurses could have helped to reduce the burden of understaffing in the country’s health sector.

Malawi currently has a nurse-patient ratio of one to 80 against the recommended one to 30.

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Jobe observed that in the wake of the poor nurse-patient ratio, the student nurses, who are deployed for 12 weeks to various health centres, play a critical role in uplifting patients’ welfare in the country.

“Obviously, the student nurses other than delaying to graduate to start serving sick Malawians, in the short term, the country can benefit from their presence, especially now that the nurse-patient ratio is negligible,” he said.

In an interview with The Daily Times, Iwell Ziba, a concerned student at Mzuni, said the delay has ripple effects as it also affects service delivery.

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He said as health practitioners on training, they are worried with the delay in putting to practice what they learnt, a development he describes as appalling.

“It may seem as if we’re the sole victims of this strike. But believe me, sick people in the country’s health facilities in need of our services are too. There are people out there who yearn for our services,” said Ziba.

Close to 300 Mzuzu University nursing students were due for deployment to various health facilities for a three-month period before the strike started.

Lecturers at the university are boycotting work demanding a 35 percent salary hike, a demand viewed as unrealistic by management.

Last week, the striking lecturers rebuffed a 10 percent salary increment, casting doubt if the protracted battle will come to an end anytime soon.

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