Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe, one of the busiest hospitals in the country, is in dire need of additional baby incubators and operating rooms to complement the single incubator and one operating theatre currently in use.
Lilongwe district health officer (DHO)Alinafe Mbewe said the situation has created a long waiting list of people to be operated on and some operations have failed because of having one operating theatre.
Speaking in an interview after tour of the hospital by officials from Graca Machel Trust and stakeholders in the health sector last week, she said the hospital faces more challenges that need to be addressed as it has a huge catchment area.
Said Mbewe: “We only have one functional theatre, some operations are on pending because of this. We at least need three more theatre rooms and theatre beds.”
With an admission rate of 300 a day, Bwaila Hospital has 220 beds, meaning that there is lack of sleeping space not only for patients, but also the guardians. The situation is no better in the labour ward which delivers 50 births a day and 600 a month.
“You can see that we have a very big challenge in the labour ward. On average, we have 50 births a day, but it sometimes hits 85, with only five officers in the labour ward. There is also one functional incubator, meaning we have a problem if babies are born with conditions that need the incubator for phototherapy to help those babies born with jaundice,” said Mbewe.
She said in a day there is an average of five babies who need the phototherapy which at times forces them to put two babies at once which is also a risk to the babies as issues of getting more infections cannot be ruled out.
Frequent blackouts and lack of health practitioners working with the hospital not being accountable on the funds to the hospitals also puts it at a disadvantage.
Founder of Graca Machel trust, Graca Machel, said it was sad that the hospital is in such a crisis where there are so many actors in the health sector who can come to the rescue of the facility.
She called for the need for a systematic plan to improve the situation at the hospital and address the equipment challenge.
Said Machel: “There is need to expand structures at this hospital, this hospital is in crisis, it is not proper for such a busy hospital to have one functional incubator. I think that the private sector needs to do something to provide the incubators. Being a woman, I feel bad.”
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe said the health sector continues to face challenges because of decreased funding and dependency on donors.
“The problem facing the sector is funding as 70 percent of its budget comes from donors who are not able to reveal all they have. So this affects the sector a lot leading to drug stock outs and lack of equipment’s, there is need for something to be done,” he said.
Formerly known as Bottom Hospital, Bwaila Hospital opened its doors in the mid-1970s. n