Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda has ordered that all construction works on the Mzuzu Field Hospital for treating Covid-19 patients should be completed within the week for the facility to be fully operational by Monday.
Speaking when she toured Mzuzu Central Hospital and Mzuzu Health Centre yesterday, the minister said she was not happy with delays on the works on the facility.
Chiponda toured the two facilities, which are under Mzimba District Health Office, to monitor progress following President Lazarus Chakwera’s directive two weeks ago for the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to establish field hospitals for Covid-19 patients to expand the treatment capacity.
In Lilongwe, the 300-bed capacity Bingu National Stadium has become operational as has another 300-bed field hospital set up at the Blantyre Youth Centre in the commercial city.
Said the minister: “I came to inspect the works. Progress has been made, but we need to do more. They have started procurement, they have the beds and mattresses, but I have said within the week, let us open it. We have also discussed where to place the oxygen plant at Mzuzu Central Hospital.”
Despite oxygen being key to the management of Covid-19 patients experiencing respiratory failure, Mzuzu Central Hospital, the main referral health facility in the Northern Region, does not have an oxygen plant and relies on a small plant at Nkhata Bay District Hospital.
Chiponda said if the central hospital gets a plant, it can benefit many patients in other districts in the region.
She said the ministry is in the final stages of procuring a plant for the facility, adding Covid-19 has exposed huge gaps in the country’s health sector.
Meanwhile, Mzuzu Central Hospital director Frank Sinyiza has said the contractor will be on site today to start ground work for the field hospital.
He said in a telephone interview yesterday that they need an oxygen plant because the oxygen cylinders they currently use are not cost-effective and are difficult to manage.
Sinyiza said one Covid-19 patient uses two to three oxygen cylinders in a day. A single cylinder costs about K70 000. Mzuzu is expected to have a 200-bed facility.