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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Stop playing with people’s lives

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It is disturbing to learn that the government has decided to fiddle around with the salary top up that health workers have been receiving, which was introduced several years ago under the Sector Wide Approach programme.

For starters, the country’s health sector has for years not been in tip-top form, evidenced by the poor service delivery and staff shortage in public hospitals and health centres.

Not long ago, the situation reached alarming levels, as the few qualified medical personnel opted to practice their trade in foreign countries where they were getting lucrative offers.

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Now, the salary top up was not put there for fun but to, at least, try and lure the nurses and medical doctors into staying at home and serving their fellow citizens.

Not that things are any better, only that those serving in our hospitals are patriotic enough and would want to stick by that Hippocratic Oath which they swore.

Most of these workers are also living in very appalling conditions, as some of them are forced to occupy dilapidated houses, save for those deployed in recently constructed or refurbished hospitals.

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When you take all that into consideration, and the lack of equipment and supplies that characterise our hospitals, there is little that can uplift the spirits of the health workers.

The salary top up is, therefore, a crucial motivation factor and it is therefore disheartening to hear that someone within the corridors of Capital Hill decided to pull it away from the salary, by categorising it as just like any other benefits, which can be easily taken away, should the powers that be decide otherwise.

What has to be borne in mind is that these are people who most times handle fragile and delicate medical cases, and by toying with their remuneration packages anyhow, the country is actually playing around with patients’ lives.

The explanation given by the government is quite laughable because if indeed people’s salaries were doubling due to the salary top up every time there was an increment; it means somebody tasked with sorting out the figures was actually sleeping on their job and deserves to be given the boot.

It seems to us it has become fashionable these days for the DPP government to tinker with anything that pricks its fancy in the systems that have served this country for so well and for many years.

Sadly more often than not, these systems they tinker with in the name of reforms do not make the lives of Malawians any better.

On the contrary, they worsen an already worsened situation. The matter at hand is a typical example.

For once, this government should stop playing with the lives of the people by changing things that do not deserve change in the name of senseless reforms.

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