As coronavirus cases continue to spike, Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) is facing soaring demand of oxygen supplies with planned construction of own plants yet to complete.
Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda in an interview yesterday said government has since released funds to the hospital for procurement of more cylinders.
She said: “We have released funds and patients who need oxygen are getting it.”
Yesterday, some University of Malawi Chancellor College (Chanco) alumni donated 16 oxygen cylinders to KCH in response to an online campaign for donations following reports of oxygen shortage at the hospital.
Speaking on the sidelines of the donation, KCH principal hospital administrator Fredson Kambeni said the rise in cases has put a strain on the hospital’s budget.
He said: “Covid-19 has increased consumption for oxygen. One patient uses three cylinders per day and so when you combine normal patients plus Covid-19 patients, it has increased pressure on the budget. In a day we are using over 10 oxygen cylinders. Funding is there but Covid-19 has really put a strain on the budget.”
On her part, a representative of the Chanco alumni Naile Salima, speaking after the donation, asked more well-wishers to support the facility.
“We have donated 10.2kg of cylinders (16 cylinders) to KCH at a cost of K860 000. We heard that the hospital had ran out of the resource. The situation is dire and our contribution is very little because of the upsurge of cases. This will just keep them going for a day or two,” she said.
In an interview, Ministry of Health chief of health services Charles Mwansambo said government is providing both short and long-term solutions to the situation at KCH, but assured that public hospitals are functioning effectively.
He said: “There is a plant in Blantyre making oxygen in hospitals with support from Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust. We have similar plants under construction at KCH, two are being completed with Gavi-The Vaccine Alliance.
“Oxygen consumption is way above normal, one person is using three cylinders a day each costing K152 000 a month. They have 18 patients in the Covid-19 Ward. A contractor is on the ground so it’s a question of how fast they can move. Meanwhile, we continue to buy from Afrox.”