A water crisis has hit the country’s largest referral Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (Qech) in Blantyre, a development that has raised fears of waterborne diseases among guardians.
For two weeks now, the facility has been experiencing intermittent water supply, with in-patients staying for as long as 16 hours with dry water taps.
When The Nation visited the hospital on Sunday, guardians were seen washing a lot of laundry with one guardian, Margaret Chandiyang’ana, whose daughter had a baby at the hospital, saying the laundry had accumulated from water shortages.
Said Chandiyang’ana: “For the past two weeks, we have been facing this water problem. Just yesterday [Saturday] we stayed almost the whole day without water. Water started around 4am. This puts our lives in danger as we can easily contract other diseases. In the maternity ward, there was bad odour everywhere.”
Another woman in the children’s ward Beatrice Namphwiya, who was referred to the facility with her nine-year-old son in May this year, said the facility’s toilets are stinking as patients and guardians still use them even without water.
In an interview yesterday, Qech administrator Themba Mhango admitted that the hospital is currently facing water challenges, but he said he was not aware of the cause of the problem.
He said the facility sometimes hires water bowsers to supply water when its reservoirs run dry.
Said Mhango: “The issue is to do with Blantyre Water Board [BWB]. Our priority is to have the service running. But we hire water bowsers to fill our reservoirs in strategic points.”
When contacted yesterday, BWB director of distribution Verson Kafodya expressed ignorance on the issue.
“I don’t know anything about this. The hospital administrator has not informed us. But in the early hours of Saturday we had electricity problems at Chileka, but even when we have such challenges, Queens is not affected because we switch them over to another reservoir to make sure that they do not suffer,” he said.
In an interview, Malawi Health Equity Network executive director George Jobe urged authorities to act swiftly on the problem, saying water is vital at the hospital.
Qech has a capacity of 1 300 patients.