Good people, how many artists have to die before government wakes up to its obligation to ensure every Malawian receives quality healthcare services beyond the borders if not locally?
This was the burning issues following the news that Kwathu Drama Group leader Eric Mabedi aka Jakobo needs no less than K20 million to undergo a kidney transplant in India.
Fortunately, the Ministry of Health has offered to foot the bill for both travel and specialist treatment if he identifies an organ donor.
This is good news.
However, there are no applause for the ministry for coming to the rescue of the surviving half of Izeki ndi Jakobo.
It is only doing its job by airlifting Mabedi to a country with the capacity to treat the unique condition which cannot be cured locally.
The ministry Atupele Muluzi heads should have intervened before the artist’s personal health became talk of the town.
The more the country’s healthcare system leaves sick celebrities to beg for alms to access specialist treatment elsewhere, the more it compromises their privacy.
At worst, it leaves pensive minds asking: Is there any hope for Malawians without a name and connections to get the air tickets before death strikes?
When green trees burn, it is just a matter of time before dry wood goes up in smoke and down to ash.
Unfortunately, the celebrities crying for help from the citizenry only advertise the pathetic state of the country’s healthcare establishment in which nameless citizens die of treatable conditions due to lack of requisite personnel, equipment and medicines.
This is not hyperbolic, for poor Malawians, who dominate the fly-me-to-India list, drop dead like poisoned mice as lack of essential medical supplies that become a norm.
Mabedi is utterly thankful for government has put him on a lengthening list to access medical care, treatment and support abroad.
The shortlist of Malawians waiting to be put on the next plane to access treatment abroad is not short anyway. It comprises multitudes waiting with little or no hope for the day it will please powers that be to respect their right to live and access quality healthcare services where it is on offer. The waiting list keeps lengthening as the critical patients’ hopes to live another day are dashed by the long wait for zilch.
Mabedi is to have jumped the seemingly long queue inundated by patients who do not seem to count in the eyes of the government, which is first and foremost obligated to guarantee Malawians access to quality healthcare both within and outside the country.
Mabedi, like many artists, has spent all his life shining a light on various causes in a world where everyone with an agenda can procure a celebrity name to dial up the voice.
In his desperate calls for millions of kwachas to make the trip to India, he subtly reminds the healthcare system leaves a lot to save lives of Malawians with acute conditions requiring kidney transplants.
Such is the wanting healthcare system that Facebook is awash with causes and crowd-funding initiatives to ensure prominent and hitherto unknown Malawians access treatment abroad or die like they didn’t count.
It reduced one-time bestselling musician Geoffrey Zigoma to gathering alms before he succumbed to skin cancer.
Princess Chitsulo survived this humiliation when she was taken ill, requiring contributions from well-wishers to undergo a heart procedure in South Africa.
There are many famous Malawians pushed to the margins by a healthcare system misconceived to think that its obligations stops at the point a doctor diagnoses a patient with a condition that cannot be cured within the country.
The Ministry of Health needs to move faster to clear the inundation of patients waiting to access treatment abroad because critical sickness is just what it is–a matter of life and death.
The long wait for well-wishers to raise enough money for specialist treatment in another country only prolongs the risks and uncertainties that kill the patients softly.n