Medical staff at Malowa Health Centre in Nkhotakota have come under fire from community members who are accusing the health workers of rationing medical care due to shortage of staff.
The hospital, which serves a population of over 20 000, is operating from 8am until midday.
The facility has one medical assistant and two nurses.
On Tuesday, scores of patients were seen desperately waiting for the medical staff, hoping that they would resume work in the afternoon.
At around 2:15pm, a woman was brought on a motorbike groaning with pain only to be sent back unattended. She was later taken to Mpamantha Health Centre, located about 28 kilometres from Malowa.
One of the community members, Lustico Kachoto, appealed to government to swiftly act on the matter, saying people’s lives are at risk.
He said: “The situation at the hospital is dire. The hospital is not functioning as it is supposed to be. This is very disappointing.”
Medical assistant Timothy Chilombe declined to comment, saying authorities at Nkhotakota District Hospital were better placed to respond.
When contacted, acting director of health and social services Wezzie Mumba acknowledged the problem, saying management has taken measures to address the issue.
He said: “Having received the complaint, I sent a team to investigate the matter. Management has warned the medical personnel at the facility to stop barring people from getting medical care in the afternoon as well as weekends.”
Mumba said plans are underway to beef up staff at the facility.
Meanwhile, Mpama ward councillor Gaziel Chimzere has faulted district health authorities for allegedly treating the matter with little seriousness.
He observed the act violates human rights, stressing it would hamper efforts to attain universal health coverage as championed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).