Communities in Mzenga, Nkhata Bay, had a rude awakening on Thursday when an ambulance ferrying the body of their relative could not reach its destination due to inadequate fuel, prompting them to carry the body home on their shoulders for about six kilometres.
Justice Chirwa, cousin to the deceased identified as Edwin Chisi, told Nation on Sunday that the ambulance was travelling from Nkhata Bay District Hospital with the body, but the driver refused to deliver them home, citing inadequate fuel.
“He left the body at Mzenga Health Centre, about six kilometres away from home. Because we did not have alternative transport, we carried our deceased relative on our shoulders home,” said Chirwa.
Nation on Sunday was in the area for a field visit when its crew met a procession of the people carrying the body on a stretcher, walking from Mzenga in group village head Thula to Kautamba in group village head Mchingalombo in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kabunduli in the district.
Nkhata Bay district health officer Dr Albert Mkandawire confirmed on Friday that services at the hospital are affected by the problem of fuel.
“Our pump at the hospital is dry for three days now. We procured some from Mzuzu but up to now it has not been delivered,” he said.
Mkandawire said this has compromised referral services and visitation to clinics.
“With this scenario, we are not prioritising delivery of bodies. But that does not justify the ambulance’s failure to deliver the body. On that one, I have to find out first,” he said.
This is not the first time Nkhata Bay Hospital has been in the media for compromised services.
Recently, the hospital ran out of foodstuffs because suppliers stopped supplying them due to debts the hospital had with them. This forced patients to go for about one week without food.