Clashes between health workers and communities have forced closure of Area 25 Health Centre, one of the critical medical facilities within Malawi’s capital of Lilongwe, leaving about 75 000 people without medical care.
The clashes, which have led to tension between the two sides and the intervention of the Lilongwe district commissioner’s (DC) office and the police, started after a patient and other sympathisers are said to have beaten up a clinical officer on a night duty over a disagreement.
In an interview on Thursday, Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali confirmed the closure of the hospital, but said that some services were still being provided by a skeleton staff.
Said Chimbali: “The situation is tense at present and it is proving to be difficult for our colleagues at the facility to work. At present, all emergencies are being taken care of through referral to KCH [Kamuzu Central Hospital] and Bwaila Hospital and also by some skeleton staff.”
He said the whole issue started on Saturday night when a group of people went to the hospital with a patient who was injured.
Chimbali said when the group arrived they found one of the hospital staff mopping a dirty floor and the disagreement erupted after the staff member advised them to wait until he finished what he was doing. However, they were not amused with the response.
Chimbali could not say the total catchment population that the facility serves, but one of the employees at the hospital said the health centre serves between 75 000 and 100 000 people.