Nearly 300 patients at Rumphi District Hospital face starvation following the depletion of foodstuffs donated by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials last month.
The prevailing poor financing of healthcare services since October has forced some hospitals to stop providing food to in-patients.
This catalysed the November 17 civil society protests that compelled Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango and Rumphi Central Constituency aspirant Charles Mhango to donate 100 bags of maize and 20 of beans to the health facility.
However, insiders at the hospital have confided in The Nation that uncertainty is looming again as the beans will be finished by today and it is just a matter of days before the maize will be depleted.
The stock-out of foodstuffs comes at a time government has defied an ultimatum by the Rumphi Civil Society Network to spell out lasting solutions to challenges depriving patients of their right to food.
At risk are patients diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and other diseases whose medication requires specialised diets, said network chairperson Eunice Banda said.
She said: “We are still demanding answers on how government intends to end the ongoing starvation patients are going through. We need sustainable solutions to this tragedy.”
Also part of the unanswered petitions are calls for more ambulances in the district with only one vehicle which services up to 250 000 people. Ministry of Health recommends one ambulance for 50 000 people.
Rumphi district health officer (DHO) Mirriam Mkandawire confirmed the food donation was almost depleted, saying: “We will get some beans from our colleagues who borrowed some from us.”
She said Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume has promised to dispatch one ambulance to the hospital to ease transport problems.
Hospitals with few ambulance are expected to get new ones in January next year as the United States (US) Embassy and World Bank have donated 15 vehicles for each district, according to Ministry of Health.
Rumphi District Council chairperson Harry Munyenyembe asked people in the district to unite and demand for adequate ambulances with one voice.n