Staff at Nkhotakota District Hospital have expressed concern over transport and water challenges, poor patient diet and poor procurement and internal communication systems which are affecting operations at the facility.
According to a staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity, the staff had planned to stage protests on Thursday but were denied permission by Nkhotakota Police officer-in-charge (OC) Timothy Phiri because the district commissioner (DC) was not available.
The source said patients from health centres and those requiring referral to Kamuzu Central Hospital are forced to hire vehicles, and some opt to return home.
A document of concerns that the staff plan to present to the Ministry of Local Government for action seen by The Nation indicates that the facility, which serves 405 000 people, does not have an ambulance. It just has two utility vehicles.
“This is so because four vehicles are grounded at the hospital, seven are at a garage in Mzuzu which is owed K2.6 million but the total charges were K13 million. Despite making a payment of K11 million, the vehicles have not been collected because of an agreement that was made between the district health office [DHO] and the garage which makes us suspicious, hence, need your intervention,” it reads.
The staff also states that the facility experiences spells of dry taps due to alleged substandard solar power and water pump.
They have also disclosed that there is only one meal—nsima with beans, which is given to patients at lunch only.
When contacted, Phiri wondered why he was called to talk on the matter, asking: “Do I work for the hospital? Why not ask the DHO?”
District health officer Sosten Lankhulani did not pick up his phone when contacted, but district nursing officer Icily Medi said she was not aware of the said protests.
The Health Sector Strategic Plan II (HSSP II 2017-2022) acknowledges that in Malawi, emergency medical services (EMS) and referral services are weak and not well streamlined.