Civil Society finally wakes up

The plight of student nurses
On Thursday night last I took up this issue with the Irish Ambassador, Liam MacGabhann;
In July last, we employed a bright 19 year old to keep the stores at our factory site in Luinga. She had been persistent in looking for a job, armed with her MSE (equivalent of Leaving Cert). I asked if she could add, she said and subtract too, and I am good at writing things down; I said you’re hired straight away, change the high heels and the suit, she was back and ready within the hour. She was truly amazing and I wanted to give her a contract, but she was called to do nursing. I hated it but conceded to her parents better judgement – and the possibility of a professional qualification.
Her parents had saved 25 of the 35000M kwachas of fees and I personally added the other 10, Charity made her uniforms and off she went to Ecuendeni Hospital for her training, but the next day she arrived home crying and with dreams shattered, the fees were now 355,000 Mkw or about 1800 euros. University fees in Malawi exist but the Government give loans which have no facility for being repaid. You can get any degree in Malawi free; seems like that to me and this has been confirmed to me.
In the past few years many agencies, including the Norwegian Government, have come together to improve the pay and conditions of nurses and medical staff (mistakenly I think) and millions have been spent on expanding facilities for nurse training.
Last year there was more of my tax money spent on putting up huge billboard posters saying Nurses are Angels and all kinds of nice things about the profession but now in one fell swoop, the Ministry have axed the support for training, and I am left to support an amazing young woman personally!
Maybe this training is bought and paid for already or maybe its believed that donors will come rushing, as I have.
Br Aidan concluded that as most of the nurse training places are left vacant now and most certainly will be when the next tranche of fees are required, Nursing numbers may never recover from this
The much (Irish Taxpayer) funded Civil Society have taken until now to make any utterance on the issue but I suppose they have other important things to do. (You may notice that I am a tad annoyed). Of course few people know about this.

From the Nyasa Times Nov 9
Malawi’s civil society organisations on Monday petitioned government over its decision to stop paying nurses and midwifery students school fees in the form of subsidies to train them at Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) colleges.
The government, through Ministry of Health, announced early this year that it had ceased to subsidise US$2,392 needed by each student studying at the privately-owned CHAM colleges due to budgetary constraints, whereby students were paying US$224 each to study nursing courses. (My news is that students found out this when they arrived at the Hospitals)National Organisation for Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (NONM) Executive Director Dorothy Ng’oma (pictured) said in Lilongwe that government should reverse the decision on the payment of the college fees to avoid a continued shortage of health personnel in the country’s hospitals. (Do you notice the forceful language here!)

Malawi only has 4,450 nurses/midwives practising in the public sector, with a prevailing 76 percent vacancy rate.

“The recent development on the introduction of full tuition fees for nurses/midwives training poses a great threat towards addressing the inadequate human resources in the health sector in the country,” she said.–APA


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