All hospitals and health centres under Lilongwe District Health office (DHO), including the referral Bwaila Hospital, are no longer supplying meals to in-patients.
When The Nation visited Bwaila Hospital on Tuesday, the desperation on poor patients was clear as they lamented that the last meal was served over a week ago.
Bwaila is a referral facility for Lilongwe and caters for about two million of the country’s poorest from surrounding districts.
The hospital officials confirmed they have not served meals in weeks.
Hospital spokesperson Richard Mvula said the hospital administration was forced to cancel its contract with the company it hired to provide meals after failing to pay outstanding debts.
He said the development was due to lack of government funding and that it has affected all hospitals under Lilongwe DHO.
During the visit, a pregnant woman, from Area 23 in Lilongwe, said she got to the hospital last week Wednesday and was lucky to be served with a single meal. But since then, she said, no meals have been served again.
Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume on Tuesday said government released funding for all the hospitals.
“We decentralised the funding for hospitals and I know the officials were funded so the best person to respond to queries on the matter is the DHO,” said Kumpalume.
The minister’s position was in sharp contrast to that given by hospital officials who said they notified the ministry and sought for solutions to the funding woes.
Lilongwe DHO Alinafe Mbewe said he was yet to be briefed on the matter as she is new in the office while his outgoing counterpart, Mwawi Mwale, who was recently transferred from the facility, said he could not speak on the matter.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe yesterday decried the development as a worrying sign of neglect of the health sector. n