- …as NPL donates to Likoma Hospital
Just helpless! Due to electricity woes, the water system is not reliable; when women go for delivering, everybody nearby can hear them groaning; the few beds in the post-natal ward are old and dilapidated!
The labour ward, which is too small and has just two improvised delivery beds, lacks the much-needed privacy for women.
Worse still, both men and women share the waiting shelter, where there are no toilets, beds, mattresses, mosquito nets and they have open bathrooms—not an ideal situation at all.
Welcome to St Peter’s Health Centre, at Likoma Island district, where Nation Publications Limited (NPL) yesterday donated assorted medical items, under the Mother’s Fun Run (MFR) initiative.
MFR was launched in 2005 to promote safe motherhood and fight maternal and infant deaths through provision of much-needed healthcare items to needy public hospitals and health centres around Malawi.
At Likoma, the event commenced with an inspection of Chima Clinic, then a big walk from the clinic to Likoma Community Centre Hall, where the items were officially handed over to St Peter’s Health Centre.
Before handing over the supplies, partners toured the facility’s maternity wing, where they were shocked with the conditions within which mothers are forced to stay before and after delivering.
Matron at the hospital, Ulemu Phiri, explained the traumatising situation in the wards, especially the post-natal and labour wards.
As partners interacted with post-natal mothers, it came to light that even some beds were not as normal—what with a bed being supported by a chair as one of its legs.
“We have an average of five deliveries a day, but the room has just two improvised delivery beds. If we have more than two deliveries at the same time, it gets complicated.
“There is no privacy, either. If you are counselling someone on HIV, it is easy for other people to eavesdrop, and that compels some people to lie,” explained Phiri.
The partners looked more deflated when they were taken to what is supposed to be the waiting home for St Peter’s Health Centre.
As Fostina Manda from Chizumulu Island, who arrived at the facility on Monday as guardian for her daughter, narrated the ordeal that they face, almost everybody looked heartbroken.
She explained how men and women share the same space they call a waiting shelter, further lamenting how their privacy is violated while giving birth.
The ideal situation, according to district health officer David Sibale, is that the facility is supposed to have a guardian shelter and a maternity waiting home.
However, expectant mothers, guardians—both men and women—share this not so big space, which makes it more inhabitable due to the hot conditions at the Island.
“Infrastructure is another general challenge whereby we lack proper laboratory, theatre and office space. Staffing is another challenge,” said Sibale.
Towera Masiku, one of the people who participated in the Sleepover Challenge under the MFR initiative, said the situation in most facilities in the country is traumatising and torturous.
She called for a change in the laissez-faire attitude towards safe motherhood.
“Offered an opportunity to experience what mothers go through when giving birth; wanted to raise awareness on their plight. It was an assignment that left me with a very broken spirit, a heart-rending trip ever done,” she said.
NPL chief executive officer Mbumba Banda expressed sadness at the development, calling for concerted efforts to deal with the challenges while trustee from Press Trust, Radson Mwadiwa, said some of the issues require action from within the district, and not Capital Hill.
Without a government district hospital on the island, based on the 2018 Population and Housing Census, the church-run health facility serves a population of 14 527.