Malawi Doctors' Body Accuses Government of Playing Double Standards On COVID-19 Response

(file photo).
17 April 2020

Human Resources for Health Coalition (HRH) has accused government of playing double standards it its response to the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic by failing to fulfil its promises to provide healthcare workers with provide personal protective equipment (PPE).

Mtemang'ombe (at the centre) addressing the media in Lilongwe today-Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times The press conference in progress.

The betrayal of government on provision of PPE to healthcare workers has forced the nurses' body to declare indefinite withdrawal of services of healthcare workers across the country until such a day the Ministry of Health will be prepared to provide the materials to all the public and CHAM [Christian Health Association of Malawi] health facilities.

HRH chairperson, Hanna Mtemang'ombe, told journalists in Lilongwe on Friday that authorities at the Capital Hill have not been forthcoming with information about the issues agreed at their recent meeting with the organization thereby leaving nurses and other healthcare workers in 'utter suspense and frustration'.

Mtemang'ombe vowed that the body will not entertain any more request from government to extend their ultimatum, saying they have been disappointed by government failure to understand and appreciate the risks nurses and healthcare workers are being exposed to in the course of saving and serving Covid-19 patients and cases.

"HRH has been monitoring the situation on the ground regarding the ministry's response to Covid-19 based on our demands. As at present, our findings show that, in most of the public and CHAM facilities, PPEs are inadequate. This is putting a strain on them as they have to cover for the majority of fellow healthcare workers who do not have access to PPEs," she said.

Mtemang'ombe further disclosed that despite engaging the Ministry of Health officials on further discussions to consider raising risk allowance as a matter of emergency, authorities have not moved an inch towards resolving this outstanding issue.

"One wonders if indeed government acknowledges that with Covid-19 pandemic, nurses, as frontline healthcare workers, are unarguably putting their lives on the line by nature of their work," she emphasized.

The HRH chairperson also took advantage of the presser to condemn 'in strongest' terms the attitude of some Malawians who are allegedly stigmatizing nurses and other healthcare workers by calling them names such as "corona".

Government spokesperson Mark Botomani has been saying government is already doing a lot to create an enabling environment for nurses and healthcare workers in response to Covid-19.

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