Two weeks after returning from her holiday in United States of America, Deputy Minister of Health Chrissy Kalamula has admitted that she was away for long and missed out on some local Covid-19 developments.
She said this on Friday during her tour of Ekwendeni Mission Hospital and Kaweche Health Centre in Mzimba to assess the Covid-19-related challenges the two facilities are facing.
The Deputy Minister was briefed by health authorities at Ekwendeni Mission Hospital that Covid-19 patients are reporting late to the facility and communities are shunning the hospital due to misinformation and myths on the pandemic.
Said Kalamula: “I have been away for long and obviously missed out on some local news. Are there any jingles or programmes being aired on the radio to dispel the myths and give out the right information?”
She also admitted that her ministry has not done enough to sensitise the masses to Covid-19.
“I think this is where we have lost the plot. Of course, we are working with the ministries of Civic Education and National Unity and Information to give out more information on Covid-19,” she said.
During most of the tour, Kalamula seemed out of touch with the reality on the ground on
how hospitals are grappling with Covid-19 challenges.
When Ekwendeni Mission Hospital officials asked for funding to buy oxygen cylinders which the hospital does not have and more personal protective equipment (PPE), Kalamula said they should forget it because Covid-19 money is all gone and people are failing to account for it.
However, it later transpired that M’mbelwa District Council is yet to disburse its Covid-19 K50 million funding which it received recently.
In an interview after the tour, Kalamula said the health sector has been neglected for long by previous governments, adding her ministry is working to correct the mess.
Synod of Livingstonia director of health Mphatso Ngulube said health workers at Ekwendeni Mission Hospital risk contracting Covid-19 because of inadequate PPE.
He said: “We refer our patients requiring oxygen to Mzuzu Central Hospital because we do not have the necessary equipment to handle Covid-19 patients.”
Figures show that Ehwendeni Mission Hospital has in the past month tested 99 patients for Covid-19, 36 tested positive, five died at the hospital’s isolation centre, while eight died in the communities.