Nation Publications Limited (NPL) 2018 edition of Mother’s Fun Run has raised over K165 million, which is more than the targeted K150 million, in support of public health facilities in Ntchisi District.
During the main event at Ntchisi District Hospital on Saturday to hand over the donations to Ntchisi District Health Office (DHO), most speeches from the local authority painted a gloomy picture of the situation facing most public health facilities in the district.
Speakers, who included Senior Chief Nthondo and the DHO representative Dr. Grace Momba, revealed a set of miseries facing Ntchisi’s health sector, such as lack of necessary medical equipment, shortage of staff and one ambulance servicing a district with a population of over 300 000 people.
Momba said persistent blackouts is another issue which is making life hell for the district hospital. As if to provide credence to her complaint, there was a blackout a few minutes after her speech, and the rest of the event, for the next three hours or so, ran on standby generators.
Responding to the concern of power outages, NPL chief executive officer Mbumba Banda announced that the Mother’s Fun Run (MFR) will donate a 33KV generator to the district hospital.
A Nation on Sunday snap check of the district hospital also came across the same challenges highlighted in speeches. Through interviews with medical personnel, it was learnt that the district’s sole ambulance is equally in bad shape with worn out tyres.
“The ambulance is overused. Imagine, it takes about four hours to and from the furthest health centre (Kangorwa), which is 45 kilometres from the district hospital. During the rainy season it is worse as most roads are impassable, which contributes to maternal deaths,” narrated a nurse.
The frustration is extended to patients, especially expectant and lactating mothers, who have to share a bed. According to one mother of a newborn baby, sharing a bed is one horrible situation she has faced.
“It is tough. Very tough. Look at the height of the bed and how small it is for two people and their babies,” she illustrated.
Staff and management of the DHO indicated that the donation from MFR is a relief to what they describe as the “pathetic situation for hospitals in the district”.
Men and women who participated in the NPL Mother’s Fun Run Sleepover Challenge also corroborated the story of how pathetic the situation is in most health facilities, the reason that compelled them to donate.
Speaking on behalf of Sleepover Challenge participants, Temwani Simwaka, who is chief financial officer for Standard Bank, said she was touched to see what women went through in the process of giving birth. She said the experience she went through during the Sleepover Challenge, and the problems she observed, was the reason she decided to raise about K7 million.
Partners who have so far contributed to MFR also shared their observation and motivation behind their support.
“It was a moving experience. When you see women delivering in dark rooms without necessary materials…you are left with no choice but to join the campaign and make a difference.
“We may be privileged that we never went through such pain, but when you see others going through the same, you have a reason to join the cause,” said Yankho Mataya, a representative from WaterAid, which donated K40 million to Mother’s Fun Run 2018.
Ministry of Health chief director Charles Mwansambo hailed the NPL initiative, saying Capital Hill needed more helping hands to improve the situation. He said it is a gratifying experience to see more institutions partnering NPL.
NPL’s Banda pledged that the Mother’s Fun Run initiative will continue and spread to other equally needy districts. She said she was happy that with the support of partners, this year’s edition of Mother’s Fun Run has been able to generate more than targeted.
“This year, we have chosen the hospital and health centres in Ntchisi where 162 children (the equivalent to over 10 minibuses loads) and 12 mothers (the equivalent to one load minibus) die every year to a myriad of socio-economic factors resulting in expectant mothers delaying in seeking care, reaching care; and receiving care”.
“Of these three factors, lack of provision of care contributes to the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality, and has been our primary intervention focus throughout our safe motherhood initiative,” Banda said.
The donated equipment includes theatre beds, theatre clothing, patient trollers, beds and mattresses, fridge for storing drugs and oxygen concentrators.
The NPL initiative has excited the German Ambassador Jurgen Borsch, who before the main event at the district hospital, took part in the Fun Run alongside other dignitaries. Borsch said NPL Mother’s Fun Run is something that should be celebrated.
The German envoy thanked many players that had joined hands with NPL to improve maternal and safe motherhood. He said quality health care is a challenge in Malawi, but initiatives such as MFR have the potential to improve neonatal and maternal health in the country.