Hundreds of medical workers at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe in solidarity on Tuesday gave Malawi Government, through the National Assembly, a 48-hour ultimatum to urgently solve the drug and medical supplies crisis rocking the hospital or they will down tools.
The petition is a follow-up to the one they presented to the President last year, in which they demanded improved conditions and health service delivery at the referral hospital.
Leader of Health Workers Association of Malawi Steven Mjuweni said on Tuesday the drug and health service delivery situation at the hospital is deplorable.
“There are no gloves and simple things such as masks, which can be bought for a price of K200. Nurses in the burns unit put on plastic paper to touch a patient. I mean, is that on?” wondered Mjuweni.
The petition, which was received by Mwanza Central member of Parliament (MP) Nicholas Dausi, further alludes that health workers are not able to do X-rays and full blood count diagnosis due to shortage of equipment.
“There are no diagnostic facilities at the hospital. For example, at the Radiology Department they have not been able to do X-rays for more than a month running, forcing clinicians to blindly treat patients with fractures or send them away to other hospitals, and then the laboratory is not performing due to broken machines. Now you tell me, how many patients are going to be referred to private hospitals or maybe, how many people can afford to visit such hospitals?” he said.
According to Mjuweni, the situation has been worsened by inadequate funding to the hospital.
“Despite the devaluation of the kwacha last year, and the floatation of the currency, the central hospital’s budget has been cut to less that K30 million [about $75 000], from the K80-100 million which was being given three years ago,” he said.
But Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali only said: “We will look into the issues raised.”