Abomination: Malawi women paying to give birth

In an unprecedented and unparalled development, staff at the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), the referral hospital for the Central region, are asking pregnant women due for delivery, to part with MK1,800 (about US$10) for five litres of diesel for a standby generator to mitigate against power supply failure.

The Nation newspaper, which has broken the story, talked to several women who had just delivered at the hospital and staff at the maternity wing, who confirmed the development.

The hospital’s director Dr. Noorden Alide told the paper on Wednesday that management was not aware of the arrangement.

Kamuzu Central Hospital

This is yet another blatant display of “living in denial” – a characteristic that has fast become sort of a brand for the Malawi Government under President Mutharika and his Democratic progressive Party (DPP).

“We were told that in case of power interruption during delivery or if there are complications, there should be fuel in the generator to rescue the situation,” said the woman.

One of the nursing officers in the maternity wing also confirmed and justified the demand.

“Just like in some health centres they ask the women to bring candles, we are asking them to contribute the fuel. This is one of the measures aimed at reducing death during delivery which at times are due to electricity problems,” a nurse told the newspaper.

The nurse justified the request, saying it is actually for the good of the women themselves.

“We are in a very difficult situation because at times we can have electricity problem while a Caesarean is in progress. As a hospital, we try to play our part, but we are also saying that the women should play their role to save their own lives,” said the nurse.

This is arguably the worst that mothers are facing at the Kamuzu Central Hospital since its construction in the mid-seventies.

In a related development, two women, Juliana Banda (39), a mother of seven and Esther Mulewa (41), died within a space of one hour after power went off died at Mchinji District Hospital in one of the frequent power outages and shortage of fuel to run standby generators.

The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has for quite a long time now, been rationing power supply due to reduced generation capacity to pave the way for maintenance.

Malawi recently lost an opportunity to improve power generation through the American grant MCC due to bad governance.

These developments, unheard of in even during the colonial era, are happening when the media has made shocking revelations of a serious lack of a sense of priorities and a penchant for luxuries that are benefitting a select few that has developed under the current regime.

It remains to be seen if the opposition will, at the parliamentary session currently sitting, raise this issue and the Government to task for this gross dereliction of duty.

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