Zomba District Health Office (DHO) in collaboration with Zomba District Council has suspended operations of ambulances after 6 pm following an incident where one of their ambulances was stoned on Wednesday night.
Zomba DHO Public Relations Officer (PRO), Stein Seven, said the incident occurred in the area of Sub Traditional Authority (ST/A) Ngwelero in Mponda Village when one of their ambulances was traveling to Zomba Central Hospital after picking up a maternity patient at Nansawa Health Centre.
Seven said the villagers, who included children, started stoning the ambulance in suspicion that it was carrying blood suckers, a rumour currently circulating in the Southern Region.
The PRO said the driver of the ambulance, Max Masinde, escaped the attack and reported the matter to Thondwe Police Station the same night.
Meanwhile, the police have condemned the act by the villagers, saying it will compromise health service delivery in the district and the lives of the communities themselves will be in danger when they need referral assistance to Zomba Central Hospital.
Eastern Region Police Spokesperson, Joseph Sauka, said in an interview that police in the region, especially in Zomba have tightened security to protect lives of people and their property.
Sauka assured people that police in the district are working hand in hand with different stakeholders revamping community policing forums, among other things, to provide maximum security to the public regarding the rumours circulating about blood suckers.
He said, currently, there is no evidence of people having their blood sucked and no suspect has also been apprehended, hence people should stop living in fear.
In an interview with the District Commissioner (DC), Emmanuel Bambe following suspension of operations of the ambulances after 6:00 pm, guardians will be responsible for finding their own means to ferry patients to the hospitals they have been referred to since they are damaging the ones provided by government.
“We have temporarily suspended ferrying referral patients to Zomba Central Hospital following the incident that happened last night to protect our workers and property,” confirmed Bambe.
However, Bambe said it is his hope that the suspension will not long. He said the council has formed a task force comprising Civil Society Organizations, National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) and other government departments to look into the matter to ensure that the blood sucking rumours are looked into and dispelled so that all office operations continue as usual.
Bambe added that community policing forums have also been very instrumental in calming down the situation.
So far, more than four community meetings have been held in T/A Mbiza and ST/A Nkapita.
He further said the teams will be scattered across the district from Thursday, meeting communities and chiefs to find out how best they can resolve the current problems.
According to Bambe, no case has been medically confirmed that blood was sucked from any person in the district.
The blood sucking rumours started in Mulanje last month where some people suspected to be blood suckers were killed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :