4 August 2015

Malawi: Health Workers in Trouble

Practicing health workers in Malawi must brace for tough punishments over involvement in incessant drugs and equipment theft, in the wake of revelations that most of them are behind the malpractice.

Malawi24, understands that stiffer punishments are been lined up for medics who are found to be part of the theft on assertions that previous offenders have not been punished at a level to deter others from doing the same.

Recently the media has been awashed with reports of drug theft in public hospitals with emerging reports claiming that the drugs are selling like hot cake in neighbouring countries as well as to owners of private clinics.

In a press briefing last week, Minister of Health, Jean Kalilani disclosed that her office would from Tuesday start meeting with District Health Officers (DHOs) describing the matter as urgent.

Kalilani admitted that there are supply chain management issues which government needs to address as soon as possible.

She said that stock position of the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) has improved over the last 18-24 months, citing that early 2013, the stock at the stores was around 5 percent but in 2015 as of June end, stock it has risen to 60%.

Lately, in an interview with Malawi24, private clinic owner and politician, John Chisi blamed health workers for throwing to the bin the oath they made to help the sick by selling drugs to their benefit alone and also by misusing people's tax.

Chisi argued that most medics have graduated but do not understand what it takes to be medical officer , citing that they have fallen in the career by accident.

"To be a health worker, is a calling from God and those who were truly called will never involve themselves in any act that will impinge the patients in return" Chisi argued.

While some assertions have been made that the medics involve themselves in such acts because of low pays they get from government, other quarters have wondered why other professionals like teachers have not been doing the similar acts but also 'lowly' paid.

In the same vein, it is believed that most private clinics are being owned by retired doctors who have strong links to the hospitals as such have also been championing the malpractice.

Recently, President Peter Mutharika at a rally in Ndirande Township in Blantyre, expressed worry of the increased shortage of drugs in hospitals and told the gathering that his government was trying all it can to redress the situation.

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