The Royal Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi Kikkan Haugen says unless government addresses the current soaring staff vacancy rates in the public health sector, Malawians will continue struggling to access essential health services.
The revelation follows a latest strategic health plan from the Ministry of Health (MoH) which indicates that there is a 45 percent vacancy rate for health professionals in the health sector, mainly due to inadequate funding.
Haugen was speaking when he presided over the official opening of a 200-seater auditorium at University of Malawi (Unima) constituent college, College of Medicine (CoM) main campus in Blantyre yesterday.
He observed that investment in institutions of higher learning such as CoM could help government become less dependent on foreign expertise and funding which is the case at the moment.
Said Haugen: “If Malawi does not continue to train and deploy health personnel, the care given in health facilities will not be of high enough standard to secure the rights of Malawians to access quality health care.
“If the education sector is not able to produce enough professionals for strategic sectors in this country, Malawi will forever be dependent on foreigners coming in to fill the gaps.”
Reacting to Haugen’s remarks, MoH spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said the ministry has made a lot of progress in improving the workforce in the country’s health sector.
“This year alone, we have employed [many] health professionals and the Health Services Commission has been conducting interviews so that when people are promoted, they should create room for others to take up those positions. The number of new recruits is quite high,” Chikumbe said.
In his remarks, Unima Council chairperson James Maida expressed gratitude to the Kingdom of Norway for promoting infrastructural development in the past 17 years at the Unima constituent college.
Speaking earlier, CoM principal Mwapatsa Mipando disclosed that the auditorium will also host both local and international conferences.
The K262 million facility is part of the John Chiphangwi Resource Centre (JCRC) holds a library and the clinical skills laboratory, among others, and was constructed with funds from Norway and the Welcome Trust Sacore project. n