Hon. Forks, it is very clear now that Malawi is in a grave situation following the resurgence of new Covid-19 infections that are overwhelming hospitals and killing more and more people in short lapses of time.
This increase in Covid-19 cases has been widely attributed to imported cases from South Africa which has the highest number of infections on the continent besides having recently identified a new strain of the pandemic that is fast-spreading.
Ministry of Health figures show that about 50 people died of Covid-19 this week alone bringing the total number of deaths to 275 and 3 642 active cases by Wednesday this week.
It is, therefore, no doubt that this increase is believed to have been amplified by foreigner and returnees entering Malawi from the rainbow nation and other countries facing the same challenge.
However, the latest trends are also a forceful reminder to all citizens that we cannot continue on our usual path mostly as has been littered with appalling public defiance to basic Covid-19 prevention, containment and management rules enforced by the government from time to time.
While some people are losing their loved ones to the pandemic every day, it is disheartening to see others deliberately ignoring these guidelines, including social distancing, hand-washing with soap regularly and wearing face masks in public places, in broad daylight.
Without a doubt, lack of adherence to such measures is what has pushed Covid-19 admissions to over 400 percent within weeks into the New year, piling pressure on the already understaffed hospitals and making them seem like death traps due to severe capacity constraints
Hon. Folks, in such a crisis, politicians many not entirely escape responsibility and many bear the blame for most of the health disasters that Malawians faced yesterday and today, including Covid-19.
Which brings us to the next subject on lack of seriousness among our leaders who have always remained bent on enriching themselves at the expense of poor Malawians who routinely elect them into various leadership positions?
For years politicians have cheated the citizens by failing to implement crucial policies aimed at ensuring smooth delivery of health services to Malawians and instead they have used their incapability as springboards for siphoning donor and public funds into their pockets.
Take for instance the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP), a five-year public health sector medium term plan first developed to run from 2011-2016 and its successor HSSP II which is assumed to be under implementation at the moment and expires next year.
These tools were both crafted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) with support from donors and comprise key strategies for addressing inequalities that hinder Malawians from attaining good healthcare in public health facilities.
These strategies sought to improve the availability and quality of health infrastructure, improve availability, retention, performance and motivation of staff and improve the availability, quality and utilisation of medicines in hospitals, all of which am sure could have played a big role in dealing with the current crisis.
But alas! Many years down the line, the country is still moving in circles with successive governments failing to improve health service delivery, including constructing new hospitals as projected in the books at Capital hill.
Unfortunately, such important issues affecting the majority of citizens—millions precisely—are typically forgotten by those in power and they usually summon up their senses when something dreadful happens to them or their loved ones.
Hon.folks, when former president Bingu wa Mutharika died in office in 2012, there was an urgent recommendation to construct a military hospital to handle different cases, including full-size emergencies, but the proposal is still a white elephant many years down the line.
Construction of this particular hospital was one of the recommendations by the Commission of Inquiry into circumstances that led to Mutharika’s death—particularly the manner he was treated before and after reaching Kamuzu Central Hospital.
But today the project which has already squandered huge sums of tax payer’s money is yet to take off while the government continues to spend billions of Kwacha in external medical referrals.
With this pandemic still devastating Malawians, authorities must seriously consider investing in health facilities that can help ease access to improved heath care for all citizens not just the selected few who are flown abroad for medical care.