BLANTYRE - Malawi says it is recruiting hundreds of healthcare workers to address a shortage as the country deals with a surge in COVID-19 cases. Healthcare workers welcome the move but say the government needs to do more than just hire more nurses.
Government statistics show that about 900 Malawian health workers are currently in quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. Ten of them have died.
Dr. Charles Mwansambo is secretary for the Ministry of Health.
Speaking during a televised presidential address on Sunday evening, he said to address the shortage, the government is attempting to recruit 1,380 new healthcare workers from various schools this week.
“So there are 219 workers for central hospitals, 150 workers for CHAM [Christian Health Association of Malawi] facilities and 377 for district hospitals. And we are also recruiting 634 interns,” he said.
Malawi is experiencing a lot of challenges under COVID-19, including a shortage of personal protective equipment or PPEs.
Mwansambo said Malawi has set aside about $1.2 million for the procurement of the PPEs.
“Districts where the pandemic is severe have been furnished with emergency treatment units. And our next step is to set up emergency treatment units in each of the remaining district with a bed capacity between 30 and 60," he said.
In an address Sunday night, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said he was concerned with an unprecedented rise in coronavirus cases.
“In the past seven days, we have confirmed a total of 6,675 new infections, which is an average of 953 confirmed infections per day. This means that the average daily number of new infections from this past week is double what it was the previous week," he said.
Chakwera also said in the past seven days, the daily average number of COVID-19 deaths was more than double what it was the previous week.
“Covid-19 deaths in the seven days between January 10th and 16th were 80, but in the seven days between January 17th and yesterday, the total was 170. The continued rise in new infections and new deaths over the past week means that the urgent directives I gave a week ago must continue to be implemented with uncommon speed," he said.
The directives included a nighttime curfew, suspension of schools and a recommendation that Malawians wear face masks.