Malawiâ€™s largest referral hospital, QECH, has been hit by shortage of some essential drugs, leading to some patients dying of treatable diseases, some doctors have said.
While Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) administration has not yet commented on the issue, the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) has confirmed the shortage, saying they are doing everything possible to fastrack procurement of the drugs.
According to one of the senior doctors at QECH, the facility has for three weeks now run out of essential drugs. These include medicines for treating tuberculosis (TB).
â€˜Patients dying from treatable diseasesâ€™
One of the doctorâ€™s colleagues has described the situation as â€œa serious setback to service delivery in terms of public health as some patients are dying from treatable diseases.â€
Another physician claimed the QECH administration is aware of the situation.
He said they also do not have masks to protect themselves from infection as they deal with patients that are sputum-positive in the wards.
Said the doctor: â€œAs doctors and clinicians, we are bound by a code of professionalism; hence, we cannot abandon ship and leave our patients to die. We feel at times that we should refuse to work and stay at home rather than witness the pathetic human suffering and tragedy that is unfolding in our hospitals.
â€œPatients are dying from treatable diseases. Someone must answer for this. Someone must explain how we can get to this level where some poor Malawians hardly count as human beings with certain rights to expect care from those that govern.â€
The doctor claimed the hospital has had essential drug shortages for months and that they are worried certain drugs that are the mainstay of treatment of crucial diseases are not available.
He said drugs such as intravenous fluids for resuscitation of accident victims and shocked patients from serious infections and diarrhoea are also in short supply.
He said insulin for diabetic patients, ceftriaxone for severe sepsis and meningitis and anti-convulsants which are used to control seizures/convulsions are among the medicines out of stock.
CMST on Thursday said they are aware some medicines are in short supply at the facility and are doing their best to replenish the stocks.
CMST public relations officer Herbert Chandilanga said in a written response that there have been procedural challenges to procurement of medical supplies, but with assistance from development partners, the country has been able to avert a serious stock-out.
Said Chandilanga: â€œWhile working hard to ensure long-term effective plans of procurement, the CMST is exploring emergency procurement through the Office of the Director of Public Procurement [ODPP].
â€œThe ODPP has since granted CMST a â€˜No Objectionâ€™, meaning that the Trust can go ahead with a restricted tendering method.â€
Chandilanga said the emergency procurement arrangement will expedite the remaining parts of the procurement process by, for example, shortening the bidding period from 45 to 14 days, after which there is evaluation and award of contracts.
QECH management has not yet responded to a questionnaire sent last Wednesday.