Shock gripped medical and business stakeholders in Lilongwe yesterday when a Likuni Hospital officer disclosed that the recent incessant power blackouts caused deaths of some patients using electricity-powered oxygen-support machines.
Likuni Mission Hospital in-charge of hospital works Sister Sabina Mwamba triggered the somber atmosphere through the disclosure at a meeting organised by the Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom) and the new Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe yesterday.
According to Mwamba, Likuni Mission Hospital agreed with Escom to be supplied with constant power on Tuesdays and Thursdays when operations are done.
But she lamented that even on these days, sometimes, electricity to the hospital is erratic, thereby making their job difficult.
“We are a referral hospital catering for patients from as far as Malingunde, Kanyelele, Chitedze and even some from the city, who come to seek services at the hospital. Sometimes we lose patients who are on oxygen [machines] and it makes us feel ashamed because these are avoidable deaths.
“Sometimes, when taking patients to Kamuzu Central Hospital, they die on the way. Our plea is that Escom should give us a direct line as they do with other government hospitals,” lamented Mwamba, who declined to give the number of the deaths she referred to.
She said the problem has been compounded because the bigger generator the hospital relies on is faulty.
“We nearly wrote the President. But we were told to write the ministry first, but things are not improving. Our plea is that we should have our own electricity line, like other referral government hospitals and that is how this problem may be solved,” Mwamba suggested.
Commenting on the matter, Escom senior engineer for the Central Region, Kondwani Mughogho, conceded that despite much communication between the two entities, the problem is that Likuni is towards the end of a power line which supplies other townships.
Escom publicist Kitty Chingota said the problem being faced at Likuni is also felt in other hospitals like Namitondo, Mtengowanthenga, Mlare and Nkhoma.
“All health centres feel this problem and we will be meeting Christian Health Association of Malawi officials, as well as Ministry of Health officers, to find a solution together. We need to find a collective solution to this matter,” said Chingota. n