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Nurses back Juliana Lunguzi on labour export

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Nurses and midwives have backed Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health Juliana Lunguzi’s labour export proposal.

Lunguzi said in Parliament recently that, since the country is not employing all the nurses it is training, it should consider exporting the unemployed ones to countries that need them.

Lunguzi’s remarks have drawn mixed reactions from stakeholders, with some saying the country is not in a position to start exporting human resources.

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But National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives Executive Director, Dorothy Ngoma, said the unemployed nurses risk losing their skills if they stay too long without securing employment.

Ngoma said, while it is true that the country needs more nurses than it trains, leaving people unemployed for a long time leaves them demotivated.

Ngoma said the country has about 3,000 unemployed nurses who are at risk of losing the knowledge they acquired in college if they overstay without a job, adding that more nurses will graduate this June and October.

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“We know that we need trained nurses and midwives. In fact, we need three times the number of nurses we are training but what can we do if the government says it does not have money to employ them? That is why we say the idea of Honourable [Juliana] Lunguzi that the government should consider exporting them to countries that need them is brilliant. All the Members of Parliament should support the idea,” she said.

Ngoma said countries such as Canada, the United States and Britain are in dire need of nurses.

But Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director, George Jobe, said although the decision makes sense on humanitarian grounds, since the nurses are being economically marginalised, exporting them is a bad idea.

Jobe said Malawi needs all the nurses and the best way out is to continue pushing the government to employ them.

“We understand that Honourable Juliana Lunguzi said this on humanitarian grounds but, practically, we need all the nurses and we cannot start exporting them. What we need is to encourage the government to employ them,” he said.

The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood indicates that Malawi needs 20,217 additional midwives to reach the World Health Organisation’s recommended population of one midwife per 175 women.

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