We, the undersigned, call for URGENT action by the State Legislature and the government of Malawi to rescue Kamuzu Central Hospital from its current crisis. Currently patients are not being served effectively and efficiently because of lack of basic drugs and medical supplies. This has led to unnecessary suffering of patients and preventable deaths of Malawians.
There are no diagnostic facilities at the hospital. For example, at the radiology department they have not been able to do x-ray radiographs for more than a month’s running forcing clinicians to blindly treat patients with conditions like fractures or send them away to private radiographers. The laboratory has not been able to do full blood counts among other important investigations for more than 6 months running because the old machine is broken down and there are no reagents. This is an impossible situation for any hospital let alone a central hospital.
There has been no theatre supplies such as sutures, bandages, face masks etc forcing the referral hospital to cancel elective surgeries and only conduct emergency procedures. This has left patients languishing on the wards waiting to find space on the theatre list while their disease conditions worsen.
Other support services such as the Central Sterile Supply Department (CSSD) has not been able to efficiently provide sterilizing services due to lack of chemicals and persistent break down of the old machines. There has been a longstanding lack of cleaning materials such as mops, soap and disinfectants, a situation that has put patients and health workers at risk.
The pharmacy has not been able to consistently stock supplies such as bandages, sutures, medicines, gauze, and gloves a situation that has forced health workers to improvise by using plastic papers when handling patient with wounds.
Patients are being sent away to buy their own drugs at private pharmacies because there are no drugs at the hospital’s pharmacy. As most of these drugs are expensive most patients default treatment and end up complicating and dying. Simple drugs like brufen and crucial antibiotics are not available, patients turn to cry to and even insult the helpless health worker at the bedside. What has made the situation worse for the health worker is the fact that ministry of health has been heard on media telling the nation that the situation has normalised at the hospital when that is not the case.
At the moment, Kamuzu Central Hospital has one running utility vehicle which also has a fault. There has been inadequate fuel supply which has worsened the problem.
There has been an endemic scarcity of stationary for writing patient case files and for day to day running of the hospital. This has forced doctors and nurses to write on wrappers and even on cartons.
The mortuary has not been spared from the crisis, due to the apparent increased mortality there has been inadequate space at the referral hospitals morgue whose air condition and coolers are not working exposing workers to appalling smell as the bodies decompose. The incinerator at the facility is not working, human and other wastes are being unsafely disposed causing pollution and posing a hazard to workers and patients.
Compounding this problem is the inadequate funding that the hospital is currently receiving from the government. Despite devaluation and the free floating of the currency, the central hospital’s budget has been cut to less than 30 million kwacha compared to 80–100 million which was given three years ago. This is an insult to the managers and health workers, a sign of lack of responsibility for the poor Malawian on government’s part
We urge the government;
1) To provide basic medical supplies and drugs to Kamuzu Central Hospital to serve patients effectively and efficiently. Kamuzu Central Hospital is not there to provide meals and accommodation to patients but healthcare. We took oath to save lives! We are here to work, give us materials to work with.
2) To increase ORT budget for normal running of the Central Hospital. The current 26 million kwacha the hospital is receiving is not enough for a central hospital. Three years ago, the hospital was getting 80-100 million kwacha per month, 26 million kwacha today is nothing.
3) STOP Henry Chimbali from giving false information to the public. Kamuzu Central hospital has its own spokesperson that is trusted to give accurate information about the hospital.
4) To provide health care workers with adequate personal protective equipment such as face masks, aprons, boots, gloves etc. as is stipulated in the healthcare workers Bill of Rights.
5) To send top government officials and politicians to Kamuzu Central Hospital instead of flying them to South Africa, India or other countries for simple ailments which can be treated here. Why not improve the local hospitals so that every Malawian can be treated here, equally? Amathawa chani kuno?
6) On the ‘Cash-Gate’ scandal, to bring all the culprits to book. To confisticate all the stolen property and the millions of kwachas recovered to purchase medical supplies and drugs.
7) We want Central Hospitals to be semi-autonomous. We need hospital reforms now! We want decentralization now!
we are calling on the State President, Dr Joyce Banda to cancel her planned presiding over of the opening of the dialysis unit at Kamuzu Central Hospital and the launch of the masters program in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Kamuzu Central Hospital and to instead divert the funds to solving challenges currently facing the hospital.
9) To start acting on the petition within 48 hours otherwise the services will not continue to be provided at the hospital starting from Monday the 4th of November 2013