Hundreds of poor and hopeless patients in Malawi are being turned back without accessing treatment because workers in some of the country’s district hospitals have gone on strike.

The workers – mainly nurses – from Balaka, Zomba, Thyolo and Neno district hospitals have downed tools in a last ditch attempt to force the government to transfer some senior officers they accuse of ill-treatment.

So far there is little that the government is doing to contain the situation after workers at Zomba General Hospital refused to be addressed with Vice President Khumbo Kachali who is also Minister of Health.

Medical officers at the facility went on strike on Monday demanding the removal of four top officials. The district’s Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer tried to intervene but to no avail.

Workers at Thyolo district hospital started boycotting work on Tuesday and are also demanding the immediate removal of the hospital’s management which includes the district health officer.

One of the concerned workers said they are not happy with the unnecessary transfers of their colleagues whom management deems to be leaders of the disgruntled workers.

Thyolo district health officer Dr. Andrew Likaka refused to comment when contacted, referring the press to ministry of health officials.

“I am not prepared to comment on that,” he said.

In Balaka, the workers have also been demanding the removal of four senior officials and government has so far bowed to the demands by transferring two of them.

In Neno, however, the workers are boycotting work on totally different reason in that they are demanding salary increment after Partners in Health, an NGO which was supplementing their salaries, stopped doing so.

The organization which has been providing the resources for the past three years stopped giving the workers the salaries in June citing lack of funding.

Acting district health officer Dr. Frederic Chihaye has confirmed that the sit in has interrupted quality service provision at the hospital.

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