United States of America (USA) on Friday donated 15 motor vehicle ambulances, 162 bicycle ambulances and eight motorcycles to Malawi Government.
During the handover ceremony in Lilongwe, US Embassy charge d’affaires Michael Gonzales said Malawi and the US have a strong partnership, particularly on issues of maternal heath and child survival.
He said: “Malawi has made remarkable progress in reducing child mortality. It is one of the few sub-Saharan African countries to have achieved Millennium Development Goal [MDG] number four which aimed at reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.”
Gonzales observed that Malawi has also made significant progress in reducing maternal mortality over the past decade.
“Despite the progress registered, each day in Malawi, nine women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, and 41 babies under one month old die due to various reasons, including premature birth and insanity facilities,” he said.
The ambulances are set to be distributed to five districts of Lilongwe Rural, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi and Nsanje to ease transport challenges facing the country.
But Gonzales said the ambulances will be rendered useless if there is no fuel available to allow them to run or fall into disrepair.
In his remarks, Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume thanked the US government for the support and pledged to ensure that the ambulances are used for the intended purposes.
He said: “We are finding it very difficult to reach other areas in the health sector due to financial hiccups, the support we have received will help in transporting patients to the district hospitals even central hospitals.”
On shortages on fuel and poor maintenance of vehicles, Kumpalume said his ministry works closely with district health officers (DHOs) and ensures that they account for the fuel used so that there is no shortfalls.
Transportation of patients from one hospital to another has been one of the major challenges facing the health sector of the country.