Government is yet to pay about various medical personnel that were called to help at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital at a time when the hospital was overwhelmed when Tropical Cyclone Freddy hit the Southern Region.
About 30 of the medical personnel who spoke to Malawi News on anonymity said they responded to a message that was circulating in their health groups where the Ministry of Health was calling out to retired medical personnel and those that were not working to assist at Qech.
A message that we saw purported to have originated from the hospital’s Deputy Director called out for the medical personnel who were to assist for a period of two weeks.
“Those of you that are just staying at home we are inviting you to come to and help with the situation for a period of two weeks please call the following number…,” reads part of the WhatsApp message.
One of the nurses who took up the task said she started working the same day she presented herself to the hospital authorities.
“We were of different cadres and most of us were placed at the emergency department because of the nature of the situation.
“So we would wait for the casualties to come and we would help them accordingly. And we did this for about two weeks. However, after a week into the work they went to the hospital officials to ask about payments, and they were made to sign forms with their account details but until they were let go they did not receive any payment,” said the source.
The source said they worked tirelessly day and night and further said it was such a traumatic experience.
“The hardest part was dealing with a lot of dead bodies in one room one after the other. We would see children some even in diapers, you would think they are simply sleeping but they were dead. It was so sad personally I would say I have seen dead and dressed a dead person before but I do not think I will forget what I witnessed that time,” said the source.
Former Qech Director Samson Ndolo who is now Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health confirmed receiving documents from Qech and said they have been submitted to World Health Organisation (WHO) for payment.
“We submitted to WHO on Tuesday [23, May 2023]. We traced the documents, finished all the processes, and forwarded them to WHO. We did not do well here at Capital Hill on our level. Immediately when we got the documents weeks ago we should have processed them,” he said.
Ndolo was not aware of the actual amount that has to be paid to the workers and he referred us to the Qech Director Kelvin Mponda who did not pick up calls on several occasions.