Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre, has attributed congestion at the referral hospital to the absence of a district hospital in the city.
A recent visit to the hospital revealed some patients sleep on floors and corridors of the hospital wards.
But in an e-mailed response recently, the hospital’s chief administrator Themba Mhango said the hospital admits about 260 patients every day against a capacity of only 1 300 beds.
He said the closure of Ward 4B which is under renovation is another reason that has led to congestion at the hospital.
“Absence of a district hospital in Blantyre is a big challenge and a major factor to the congestion in the medical wards of the hospital.
“The Ministry of Health is aware of the [congestion] problems. Interventions such as patients paying pass fees when referred to central hospitals have not worked well in the past.
“We are hoping that the Blantyre District Hospital project will start soon so that admissions that are meant for secondary care will be sent there,” said Mhango.
In a separate interview on Tuesday, Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali said the ministry is aware of the congestion at QECH and other hospitals in the country.
He said the ministry is strengthening urban health centres to treat most illnesses without referring patients to QECH.
Chimbali said the ministry is finalising land negotiations and title deed for the construction of a district hospital in Blantyre.
“We need to educate the public that central hospitals are referral centres and as such, the first point of contact with a doctor or clinician has to be at a health centre. There are some people who just rush to central hospitals for conditions that can be treated at a health centre.
“As for a district hospital in Blantyre, we are almost close to getting a title deed for the land after negotiations with relevant authorities. Soon, we may start resource mobilisation to start construction,” said Chimbali.