Designed to accommodate 50 patients, the oncology (cancer) ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) is catering for up to 100, forcing some to sleep on the floor in corridors.
During a visit to the ward at the weekend, some patients were seen sleeping in the corridors while others lay on the floor in spaces between beds.
QECH senior administrator Themba Mhango confirmed that Ward 2A, the designated cancer ward, was designed to accommodate 50 patients, “but currently it is hosting over 100 patients”.
One of the patients we spoke to said he was referred from Phalombe District last week, but sleeps in the corridor. The patient said the place is not conducive for her because of the noise from people using the corridor.
In an interview on Friday when the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services women’s welfare donated assorted medical equipment to the cancer ward, senior oncologist Leo Masamba acknowledged the congestion at the facility. He said the situation is negatively affecting service delivery.
He said the central hospital needs a minimum of two wards to treat cancer patients properly, but due to lack of resources, the hospital is struggling to complete an additional ward.
Masamba said: “To work at a place like Queens [QECH] requires a lot of dedication and self-sacrifice. It is very sad that when we speak, sometimes even within our own ministry, other colleagues do not understand the amount of care cancer patients require.
“Malawi needed probably four cancer centres yesterday because there is a lot that needs to be done in terms of prevention, early cancer diagnosis, treatment and supporting the patients.”
However, the oncologist urged government to put more resources to fight cancer because donors are mostly interested in communicable diseases such as HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, among others.
Said Masamba: “Cancer is a huge problem. If we do nothing, our people will continue to suffer terribly.”
Matron of the Immigration women welfare, Meclina Medi, said the group learnt that patients in the cancer ward were facing numerous challenges, including shortage of mattresses and beddings; hence, the donation.
On his part, Minister on Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi, who was also the guest of honour, commended the Immigration women welfare for the donation which included a K1 million cheque, five digital blood pressure testing machines, 10 clinical thermometers, two pulse oxymeters, mattresses and two bales of duvets.