Chitipa district commissioner Grace Chirwa has bemoaned shortage of vehicles and poor phone network coverage as persistent setbacks affecting service delivery in the district.
The district hospital is the worst hit by the transportation and communication crises, she said.
According to Chirwa, Chitipa District Hospital has only two roadworthy vehicles.
This threatens rapid response to needs of critical patients and monitoring teams, a situation worsened by rugged earth roads and scanty phone connectivity in rural areas.
“Many health facilities are far from the district hospital, so it is difficult for us to monitor services in rural centres,” she said.
Widespread use of Zambian and Tanzanian networks in far-flung areas makes communication expensive and unpredictable. The council reportedly overspent on telephone charges.
In an interview, acting principal secretary for Health Chimwemwe Banda said the Ministry of Health is planning to upgrade Nthalire Health Centre into a rural hospital to curb transportation setbacks and congestion at Chitipa District Hospital which has no room for expansion.
Located about 120km from Chitipa town, Nthalire is the most distant health centre out of 11 health facilities in the district with a population of almost 228 000. n