Written by SD.chomba (BSCCMMH)
HRH is a coalition for Malawian health workers associations and Unions. HRH coalition provides constructive strategies and criticisms to government on issues of human resource for health. Following COVID 19 outbreak in Malawi, various health worker bodies namely PAUM, NOMN, MDUM, MEHA, AAM and others petitioned government on some important issues needing governments quick attention in line with health workers protection from COViD 19, Health workers motivation for endangering their lives and families and others. On 7th April 2020, HRH members met in Lilongwe to lender support and endorse all petitions issued by various health worker bodies including PAUM through a media Press briefing. Several media houses from Zodiac, Times, MBC, Mij FM patronized the press briefing where the chairperson of HRH made a press statement on the following agreed final resolutions by all health worker bodies;
-Government was given a two day ultimatum upto Friday to distribute PPEs to all health workers in all health facilities of Malawi.
-Type of PPEs should be face shields, Face masks as recommended by WHO ie N95 type, Personal sanitizers and personal gowns as of Ebola.
-Prior to usage, health workers should be trained on how to use the PPEs to avoid cross infection with COVID 19.
-Failure by government to supply the PPEs by friday the 10th of April, 2020 will lead to a constitutionally mandated withdraw of all health workers from health service delivery for the reasons of avoiding to be infected and infecting patients.
-All health workers without WHO recommended PPEs are requested to stay away from patients after 10th of April 2020 not as a sit in but as a defense of their constitutional right to a safe amd good working environment as also enshrined in Labour relations Act of Malawi (2004)
-No untrained health worker in COVID 19 should come close to any patient.
-Government should train all health workers in the next two days because the pandemic is already in our Country
-Training should be institutionalized to avoid risking to save time and avoid risking our members to COVID 19 from long travel distances for training.
-Institutions should offer lunch allowances to all health workers being trained.
-Training should not just involve public health workers but even private health workers and support staff
-All trained health workers should immediately be provided with training mannuals for quick reference.
-Training should focus on how to use PPEs and COVID 19 case management.
HEALTH WORKER RECRUITMENT
-Health workers are outnumbered in this battle field against COVID 19.
-Those with chronic illnesses like HTN, Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes and Respiratory diseases are amongst the vulnerable groups who are supposed to stay out of the battle field as ordered by the president hence further dwindling the already inadequate number of health workers.
-To boost the number of health workers in the field so as to minimize fatique, overstretch of the already employed health workers, HRH members demanded government to immediately recruit all qualified and registered health workers without following their set procedures like advert, shortlisting e.t.c. The recruitment should be hastened up as an Emergency.
-Local HRs for LGC should be mandated to make the recruitment exercise while for HSC, members should submit their names to HRs of central Hospitals who shall take the names to HSC and Ministry of health for recruitment
-The recruitment of these health workers should be permanent.
-Recruitment to be done in two days because we are in an Emergency situation as in PPE section.
-Members agreed to change the allowance to suicide allowance because what government has been giving us from 2000 was a suicide allowance on the expense of the risky and infectious environment .
-All members agreed for an immediate upward adjustment of the allowance starting from the month of April.
-Members agreed that the allowance should be pegged 70% of each health worker’s basic salary pay. This will enable the risk allowance to be increasing each time salary increases.
-Failure to revise the allowance as orders will result into stay away of health workers from patients.
-Other allowances like professional allowance, housing allowance will be tabled next because they all need to be raised and made clear on pay slips.
-Due to the raise in public transport fares and the risk of health workers from using public transport, HRH members demanded government to increase ORT allocations for all health facilities so as to enable health facilities to ably provide transport allowances to health workers for this period.
-Alternatively, health facilities should provide shunting transports to all health care workers so as to save from the peanut pay they are getting as a salary.
-Other private sectors and some government ministries should offer their buses or coasters to various health facilities to assist in transporting health workers in this current battle field.
-Dateline for Governments action is friday the 10th of April, 2020.
-If no action by this date, all health workers and so in particular PAUM members (clinical officers,Medical Assistants, Dental Therapists) are requested to stay away from the unsafe working environment as their constitutional right to a good working environment.
-HRH coalition will pre inform all DHOs, Directors and Ministry officials through a written letter on the pending withdrawal of health workers from health service delivery starting from Saturday the 11th of April, 2020.
-COVID 19 is not a disease to play with as such all health workers are requested to comply to all safety measures as provided for by WHO.
-PAUM therefore asks all of her members to observe the recommendations as set and agreed upon by HRH members.