A total of 66 junior doctors at the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Tuesday started a sit-in to force the government to provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against the deadly coronavirus.
The sit-in comes at a time the country has recorded the first coronavirus related death and the number of cases has risen to seven. One of the doctors, Flexon Ngulinga, told The Daily Times that apart from the personal protective equipment, the doctors are also complaining that they have not been trained on how to handle Covid-19 cases.
Ngulinga added that although President Peter Mutharika directed that risk allowances for doctors be raised in the wake of Covid 19, they have not seen any raise and are not sure by how much it will be raised.
“The risk allowance we are receiving now is the one put in place in 2000 which is K1,800 per month. The other thing is that we as junior doctors are incurring high costs of transportation following the minibus price hike. So we are demanding that transport be provided to all doctors,” Ngulinga said.
He said the junior doctors had a meeting with the Hospital Director and his deputy on Tuesday and were assured that the protective equipment would be provided on Wednesday and that the doctors would be trained in groups.
“We are just waiting for tomorrow [Wednesday] and should those things not be delivered as promised today, then we will proceed with the sit-in,” Ngulinga said.
KCH Hospital Director, Jonathan Ngoma, referred the matter to the hospital Public Relations Officer, Chiyanjano Kazombo, who could not be reached on her mobile phone. Ministry of Health Spokesperson, Joshua Malango, said the ministry will provide personal protective equipment to all first line health care workers who will be handling covid-19 cases in all public hospitals as one way of preventing them from coronavirus.
He added that the risk allowances will also be raised for all health workers as directed by the president. Meanwhile Medical Doctors Union of Malawi (Mdum) has written the special ministerial committee on Covid-19 to improve the welfare of doctors in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic which has so far claimed a life in Malawi.
In a letter dated April 6 signed by the union’s president and its secretary Collins Mitambo and Rumbidzai Mlewah respectively the union asks the government to recruit addition 168 medical doctors.
On Saturday President Peter Mutharika directed that the ministry of health should hire 2, 000 health workers to beef up workforce to fight the global pandemic.
Pockets of the medical workforce in the country has of late been pressing the government to reconsider their welfare and their lives which could be at risk due to the Covid-19 outbreak. At least 115 medical personnel at Zomba Central Hospital on Monday started a sit-in to force the Ministry of Health to settle their salary and raise their risk allowances from K1, 800 to K60, 000 per month.