Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) has condemned the practice of promoting specialists in the health sector into management positions at Capital Hill, saying they are needed more in hospitals than at the ministry’s headquarters.
Ministry of Health has, however, said the responsibility of appointing officers into top positions at the ministry is in the hands of the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and not the ministry’s management.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mhen executive director Martha Kwataine said there has been a long standing problem of promoting specialist doctors into management positions at the Ministry of Health headquarters; thereby reducing numbers of specialists attending to patients in hospitals.
“If the incentives are in the form of moving specialists from hospitals into administrative positions at Capital Hill, then we cannot move forward in the health sector considering that we already have acute shortage of these specialists in our hospitals to help patients with difficult medical conditions,” said Kwataine.
She called on government to find other means of providing incentives to hardworking staff in the health sector.
“The problem with appeasement policy is that you scratch where it is not itching. Government should identify ways of giving incentives to these specialists while they are on the bedside in hospitals,” said Kwataine.
She suggested government should consider upgrading positions of specialist doctors working in hospitals to match with grades of senior staff including Principal Secretaries at Capital Hill.
“We should not waste these specialists. Let us give them medical equipment and the incentives they need so that they can continue saving patients’ lives instead of doing nothing in offices at Capital Hill,” said Kwataine.
In an interview on Thursday, Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali said it is OPC which appoints officers into top positions.
“People in positions from deputy director are appointed by OPC. We have also recently revised incentives for specialists. Most of them are now at director level.
“We will soon be buying them cars, giving them provision for fuel, an allocation for airtime and other privileges which directors at the ministry enjoy. They have the same grade with directors at the ministry. This is only for specialists,” said Chimbali.