Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has, through an investigation it undertook, found that Malmed Healthcare Services discriminated against local Malawians when it arranged Covid-19 vaccination prioritising Asian/Indian community.
MHRC established that there was a special arrangement between officials at the Blantyre District Health Office (DHO) and Malmed to have members of the Asian/lndian community and others vaccinated on March 21 2021.
Malmed is owned by pathologist Dr Charles Dzamalala, Professor George Liwomba Snr and Mahesh Kotecha.
The State-funded human rights body has since ordered Medical Council of Malawi (MCM) to institute disciplinary hearing against Dzamalala, a medical director at Malmed, who circulated the WhatsApp message that went viral regarding the arrangement.
Dzamalala, in an interview yesterday, said Malmed management team was still discussing the MHRC findings internally, and had no immediate reaction to the MHRC report.
The MHRC findings are in sharp contrast to the clearance by Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda of Malmed and Blantyre DHO of the allegations that the two made special arrangement to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine.
However, Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said, in an interview yesterday, that the minister was quoted out of context, arguing that she was at that time dismissing the issue of corruption between the DHO and the Asian/Indian community.
In its report, MHRC recommends to the Medical Council to handle the matter in a manner that sends a right message to all, and ensure that such kind of racist conduct shall never be condoned anywhere in this country, regardless of who the perpetrators are.
The commission found that while the arrangement included other groups of people beyond Indians and Asians such as employees at Malmed and clients of Dr. Dzamalala, the real trigger or necessity to have such an arrangement was to have members of the Asian/Indian community vaccinated.
“The inclusion of other groups was merely secondary and based on an attempt to look politically-correct by Malmed and; hence, avoid attracting public criticism of promoting racism,” MHRC, led by Ombudsman Martha Chizuma, disclosed Friday when they made the report public.
MHRC also found that there was no formal arrangement through letters, memos or circulars between the DHO and Malmed, and that the decision to communicate this informal special arrangement was done through mere text messages without the knowledge and consent of the Director for Health and Social Services (DHSS).
The planned exercise, however, was cancelled a night prior to its implementation following a growing public uproar, especially on social media, who viewed the conduct as being discriminatory.
MHRC has also ordered Blantyre DHO to institute disciplinary action against Dr. Zaziwe Gundah, District Medical Officer and Chairperson of Covid-19 Taskforce for Blantyre and Jean Kachala, Coordinator for Emergency Programme on Immunisation, for their involvement in the abortive arrangement.
“A disciplinary action should take into account the extent of their respective involvement in this special arrangement as unearthed by this report,” MHRC ordered, adding that this should be done by May 30 2021.
MHRC also ordered Malmed to retract their statement and issue a public apology for their role in the discrimination arrangement and that such a statement should run ten (10) times over a period of two weeks on one public and one private radio stations during prime time and should also be published on Mondays and Wednesdays in the two daily papers, twice in the two weekend newspapers over a period of two weeks.