Commission recommends establishment of Malawi presidential medical facility

An official Malawian commission of inquiry into circumstances leading to the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika has recommended to government the new presidential medical benefits following the awful treatment Mutharika faced when he suffered a cardiac arrest last year.

The inquiry, which was appointed by President Joyce Banda shortly after her predecessor died at the age of 78 found that Mutharika died in an ambulance on the way to hospital after collapsing at State House but received poor medical attention.

The report reveals that when Mutharika was admitted at the ICU at Kamuzu Central Hospital, some essential emergency drugs were not available.

The Commission recommends that a routine procedure be developed for ensuring that at all times essential emergency drugs and equipment are  available in Intensive Care Units at all central hospitals in the country.

President Banda: Report with recommendations has been presented to her
President Banda: Report with recommendations has been presented to her

The report of the Commission chaired  by retired Judge Elton Mawina Singini and its members were retired Inspector General of Police Joseph Aironi, Dr Tiwonge Loga, Dr Elizabeth Sibale, Father Joseph Mpinganjira, Brian Nyasulu, Esther Chioko, lawyer Jabbar Alide and pathologist Dr Charles Dzamalala, also recommends that Government needs to construct or establish a presidential medical facility.

The commission says medical facility should be at  the headquarters of the Malawi Defence Force in Lilongwe which is the seat of Government where the President regularly resides.

“Such a facility needs to be properly equipped with top of the range medical equipment dedicated to the treatment of the President in case of illness, as well as in case of death, as is the practice in most other countries.

“Location of such facility within the military compound will also serve to safeguard the security and privacy of the President, unlike having the President admitted or treated at a public hospital.”

The Commission also recommends the need for the Government to establish a well-equipped first aid facility within State House, as close to the President’s office as possible, to cater for any medical emergency that may befall the Head of State.

The report also suggests that the provision on medical benefits for the President in the President (Salaries and Benefits) Act (Cap 2:02 of the Laws of Malawi) which provides for only a personal physician should be amended to provide that the President shall be entitled to three medical personnel, “ that is, a personal physician, a personal anesthetist and a personal nurse,  all of whom shall be persons properly qualified and experienced in their capacities.”

The Commission recommends that there is need for a state of the art Presidential ambulance on the Presidential convoy to replace the ambulance in use at the time of the death of the President which “in the view of the Commission did not have the necessary emergency equipment and was not as spacious as to be suitable for the conduct of some medical procedures, such as CPR.”

The inquiry also recommends that all close security personnel serving the President should receive continuing training in first aid.

Mutharika, who had been president since 2004, died on April 5, 2012  following a heart attack, the inquiry ruled and that he died while having a meeting with Lilongwe legislator Agnes Penemulungu in his office.

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