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Health Minister pledges to resolve NONM concerns

Minister of Health and Population, Atupele Muluzi has pledged to resolve nursing and midwifery profession issues affecting the health service delivery in the country.

Chief among the issues the minister pledged to be resolved include: the monthly salary payment delays, serious shortage of nurses and midwives in health facilities, upgrading and phasing out of the Nurse Midwife Technician Cadre, promotions among others.

The pledge was made in Lilongwe when National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi – NONM leadership paid a courtesy call to the minister who was recently appointed to assume the position.

The NONM leadership made the deliberate effort to meet the minister with the aim to update him on issues affecting nurses and midwives in the country from the nurses union’s point of view.

The NONM President Dorothy Ngoma told the minister that nurses and midwives are demotivated by continued salary payment delays, shortage of drugs and equipment in health facilities among other issues that are affecting nursing and midwifery service delivery to citizens.

“Nursing and Midwifery service delivery is continuously being affected by inadequate drugs, equipment, as well as shortage of bed space. This is not affecting nurses and midwives alone but patients as well who are being treated in an environment that is not conducive”, said Ngoma.

Ngoma challenged the minister to use his energy in championing the change that the nursing and midwifery profession and those seeking health care desires.

The NONM President also asked clarification on rumours that government intends to do away with the 52% percent salary top allowance and the minister dismissed the rumours as untrue.

In his response, Muluzi agreed with NONM leadership that there is great need to improve on health service delivery through several interventions which include motivating staff which include nurses and midwives.

“We better incentivize our health care professionals, indeed there is need to look into the issue of salaries and conditions of service, it is something that we need to discuss with the ministry of finance.

“We are looking at how we can address the issue of having so many NMTs so that we can have many Registered Nurses, the issue of career progression is extremely important because they are the ones who are frontline staff in our healthcare system, they need to be motivated, given tools so that they are able to deliver best service to the population.

“Already we are planning to recruit 1, 200 nurses and midwives this year, to bring them into the system to address the high vacancy rate that we have. We are also looking at the upgrading program of NMTs to RNs, this is a policy issue and we are discussing seriously at the higher level in terms of how to begin phasing out the NMT cadre, we will be communicating in due course on this issue”, said Muluzi.

The NONM delegation comprised the President, National Treasure Paul Mekani, Central West Zone Chairperson Khetase Kapira, NONM Executive Director Benson Phiri and the NONM Project Coordinator Harriet Chiomba.

The government side had the Minister of Health and Population, the Director of Nursing Services Tulipoka Soko and her Deputy.