Government could be required to raise K203 million (US$511 111) to replace old incinerators in three of the country’s major referral hospitals.
Weekend Nation understands that incinerators at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) and Zomba Central Hospital (ZCH) have outlived their lifespan; hence, the need to replace them.
QECH chief hospital administrator, Themba Mhango, said Tuesday his office has since submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Health for the replacement of incinerators quoted at K30 million (US$66 667).
Mhango said the incinerator currently in use at the referral is “quite old such that it is no longer effective”.
“It is not performing to the best standards and that poses a great risk to health workers and patients. We are simply waiting to hear from the [Ministry] because we already submitted the proposal to have it replaced,” said Mhango.
He also lamented that lack of a skip (a large container for waste) is another challenge they are facing in the disposal of ashes at the facility.
“We used to hire Blantyre City Council. We stopped after they raised their prices to K140 000 (US$311) per collection. We are currently hiring a private businessperson at K10 000 (US$22) per collection, but this is not sustainable,” he explained.
His Zomba Central Hospital counterpart, Thom Chisale, said the facility would require K23 million (US$51 111) to replace its incinerator. But Chisale said his office had not yet submitted its proposal to government “because the incinerator underwent some repairs recently”.
However, hospital administrator for Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), Dr. Jonathan Ngoma, said the hospital needs at least K150 million (US$33 333) to replace their incinerator. But he said the hospital’s partners—Lab Capacity Consortium of the United States of America (USA)—has offered to procure a replacement incinerator for them.
“Procurement processes are already underway. I believe that we will have a new incinerator soon,” he said.
Ministry of Health spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe, said government was aware of the problem and that it is working towards addressing it.
Chikumbe said the lack of functional incinerators is not only in central hospitals, but also in district hospitals and other smaller health facilities across the country.
“We will need millions of kwacha to replace them all. Government is committed to procuring new incinerators, but this may take a bit long because procurement processes have no short-cuts,” he said.