Zomba Central Hospital (ZCH) continues to experience medical supply shortages as Malawi struggles to address challenges inherited from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali on Tuesday confirmed that the Eastern Regionâ€™s major referral hospital is facing drugs and other medical suppliesâ€™ shortages.
But he said the situation is not critical yet.
Chimbali also said shortages in some health facilities in the country are not an indication of a resurfacing problem that was characteristic of the recent past.
Information gathered by The Nation shows ZCH is lacking critical supplies and equipment such as portable oxygen cylinders, trolleys, vacuum extractors, blood pressure machines, delivery packs, episiotomy packs and scissors.
National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (Nonm) president Jonathan Abraham-Gama said in an interview that their findings also show that the hospital has inadequate drugs, including gauze.
“Generally, the hospital needs donations. The drugs are also inadequate. For the past two weeks, the hospitals had no gauze and this is affecting patients who are due for [surgical] operation,” said Abraham-Gama.
In a questionnaire response, Chimbali said the Medical Kit Drugs Project is one of the major interventions the ministry is implementing with development partners to address the drug shortage in public hospitals.
Said Chimbali: “We are aware and itâ€™s not a dire situation. Itâ€™s a manageable one and improvements have been observed. We have always intervened [when there is medical supplies shortage at a health facility] at central level, where necessary. We have always said that drugs and medical supplies shortages are treated with all the urgency it requires.”
Asked if the situation is not an indication of a bigger problem, Chimbali said: “It is not resurfacing. But you have to appreciate that we are recovering from a very serious situation where drugs were in short supply. It may take time to completely arrest the whole problems but we are hopeful the situation is to improve.”
The Nonm president last week wrote the ministry to urgently consider providing a big generator at ZCH, warning that power outrages can result in loss of lives.