Management of Mulanje District Health Office (DHO) is forcing patients and bereaved families to pay for ambulance services following an economic crisis that has hit the facility, The Nation has learnt.
Namisonga Ward Transparency and Accountability Club (TAC) chair, Goodson Mweruza, made the stunning revelation in an interview last Wednesday.
But Ministry of Health acting spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe, said on Monday that the ministry was not aware of the development.
Mweruza disclosed that over the past four months the DHO has been asking people to buy their own fuel if they wanted to transport the sick to Mulanje District Hospital or ferry the dead back to their respective villages.
He said the latest incident happened in the area of group village head (GVH) Chonde where a bereaved family was forced to pay K10 000 for fuel while the driver demanded an allowance of K3 000.
“Regrettably, the bereaved family couldn’t raise this amount. So, it took the whole village to raise it and finally the dead body was brought for burial,” he said.
“We have since asked Pacenet [Pan African Civic Educators Network] to assist us in seeking explanations from the DHO because disregarding complaints—even the most pertinent ones—is the greatest challenge with most of our service providers.”
Pacenet project officer, Patricia Njatula, confirmed in a separate interview on Monday that her organisation was approached by the said club, but said the organisation is yet to take action on the matter.
Mulanje DHO, Khuliena Kabwere, did not pick his phone when The Nation wanted to get his comments on Monday.
Chikumbe said: “What we know is that well-wishers do contribute resources towards operations of some hospitals; and, not patients and bereaved families being forced to pay for ambulance services. The Mulanje scenario is, therefore, unique and an interesting one; and, I promise that we’ll investigate and give you feedback,” he said.
Pacenet established TACs with funding from Department for International Development (DfID) through the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) to ensure transparency in implementation of projects. n