Individuals seeking health services in rural areas of Mzimba North are feeling the pinch of government’s decision to reduce funding to hospitals in the country.
A visit organised by Church and Society Programme of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia revealed that Manoro, Malidade, Emcisweni and Thunduwike health centres are struggling to provide quality healthcare because of shortage of staff, drugs and equipment, among others.
Mpherembe Area Development Committee (ADC) vice chairperson Stafford Nyirenda said the clinics lack materials, including HIV test-kits, and staff to conduct HIV testing and counselling (HTC).
“People in our area are unable to know their HIV status just because the health centres are unable to provide the needed services,” he said.
Mzimba North district health officer (DHO) Khumbo Shumba attributed the challenges to reduced funding to hospitals.
He said funding for Mzimba North reduced from K119 million (about $175 401) in previous years to K99 million (about $145 921) in the 2015/16 financial year, which has resulted in his office failing to train HTC providers.
Shumba said: “It has taken us long to hold HTC training and that is why clinics are lacking the staff to provide the service. We have a K22 million (about $32 427) budget for the training, but after writing proposals, none has committed to fund us.”
Hughes Chinkhuntha, project officer for Church and Society Programme’s Child Centred Community Development Project, said government needs to prioritise the health sector with adequate funding if rural masses are to access quality health services. n