Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (Cdedi) has asked President Peter Mutharika to swiftly act to end the shambolic management of Ministry of Health for allowing Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) to close as patients are being turned away.
In a statement issued on Monday and seen by Nyasa Times, Cdedi acting executive director, Sylvester Namiwa, says this is unprecedented, unwarranted and total disregard for the right to health of millions of people that depend on Queens as a referral facility.
Namiwa, a former State House official who resigned last year ahead of May 21 polls, says his organisation is convinced that the health personnel at QECH and the rest of their colleagues across the country have genuine reasons for their industrial actions.
“It is our considered view that the closure of the hospital is a threat to survival of many lives in the region at the same time raises serious questions to governments’ commitment in the whole COVID-19 response. CDEDI is, therefore, appealing to President Mutharika to immediately intervene by personally meeting the concerned health workers at QECH,” reads the statement in part.
“It is even more disheartening to see pictures of empty wards and beds at the hospital as patients have either been sent back to district hospitals, or to their homes where there is no medical attention. It is a known fact that not every patient can afford to get treatment at private hospitals. What QECH has done can be equated to signing the patients’ death certificates.
“ It is very doubtful if the district hospitals have the equipment let alone the expertise that can match a referral health facility for those that can afford. This in all fairness means Malawians are paying with their own lives as the price for the protracted battle between government and the health workers,” it adds.
Namiwa further says as human beings, health workers need to be protected and motivated so that they discharge their duties effectively.
He suggests to Mutharika that he should consider to call for a roundtable emergency meeting with the leadership of all health personnel in the country, key among them; Medical Council of Malawi, Association for Malawian Midwives (AMAMI), Nurses Union of Malawi (Noam) and Association of Medical Doctors to appreciate their plight and at the same time to motivate them in the face of the pandemic.
Namiwa has also expressed concern that some of the COVID-19 patients, especially those in rural areas have been completely abandoned without any form of support from authorities, a development that has subjected them to stigma and discrimination.