Gov’t abandons Chafumbwa Rural Hospital project in Ntchisi, mother care group advocates for completion of facility

Dreams for accessing healthcare services at a shorter distance have been shattered among the people of Traditional Authority (T/A) Chikho in Ntchisi following the decision by the authorities at the Capital Hill to abandon construction work at Chafumbwa Rural Hospital.

The project was abandoned in 2013 thereby ruining what should have become an impressive and helpful health facility.

Zelita Misi and MCG members standing in front of a newly built HSA house

The situation prompted Chafumbwa Mother Care Group (MCG) to rise to action since 2019, demanding various duty-bearers to facilitate the resumption of construction works at the facility.

A visit to the site revealed ruined structures constructed to just above window level and standing amid bushes.

The abandoned structures, according to information Nyasa Times sourced, include; out-patient department building, maternity wing, guardians shelter, five staff houses, theatre, pharmacy and mortuary.

In the face of this ruin, community members struggle to access medical care, reportedly walking 20 kilometres to Nzandu Health Center to seek help.

Speaking during an interface meeting with Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) and Ntchisi Evangelical Churches Consortium for Social Services (NECCOSS), Chafumbwa MCG secretary, Zelita Misi, emphasized the need for authorities to resume work at the facility.

“Why leave us to suffer while facing those ruins that remind us of our aborted hopes and expectations of access to quality health services? For what? We demand that something must be done soon,” said Misi, pointing in the direction of the ruins.

Apparently, the 30 member Chafumbwa MCG, empowered by the Health Systems Strengthening Program (HSSP), is running a makeshift outreach clinic where, with the help of a Health Surveillance Assistant (HSA), are just administering vaccines for children, immunizing them against tuberculosis, polio and measles, among many other illnesses.

According to Misi, nurses and other medical personnel from Nzandu Health Center, which is 20 kilometers away, visit the outreach clinic once in a while to provide other services such as antenatal and postnatal, psychiatric and HIV/AIDS testing and counselling.

HSSP is a multi-player project, which is funded by GAVI through the Ministry of Health.

The project, being implemented in Ntchisi and eight other districts, seeks to introduce and train MCGs as tools for increasing child immunization coverage and advocates for improved health services provision.

MHEN and NECCOSS roles are demand creation and community mobilization and local implementing agent, respectively, resulting in the capacity building and empowerment of the MCGs in Ntchisi to be able to discharge their duties.

Misi said their group will not relent in its efforts to ensure that Chafumbwa Rural Hospital is fully constructed and become operational.

“We have petitioned the District Commissioner’s office several times. We will continue doing so. We want authorities to know our plight and consider finishing constructing this facility as a matter of priority,” she said.

Misi added that Chafumbwa MCG has already helped built two HSA houses and 16 community toilets in the area, using the group’s own village bank profits.

“We also lobbied our councillor who helped us with part of the Constituency Development Fund to buy part of the cement and iron sheets. Now we need glass windows and solar power.

The aim is to make our HSAs lives and work comfortable. Otherwise they mostly face housing problems, living in undesirable grass thatched houses,” she said.

In his remarks, MHEN Executive Director, George Jobe, commended Chafumbwa MCG for the work they are doing, noting that MCGs are actually becoming aggressive advocacy tools for improved health services provision.

“We will join hands with this group in order to amplify their advocacy for completion of Chafumbwa Rural Hospital. We will support them even if it means taking the group members for interface meetings at ministry and district council levels.

We will also take the matter to Ministry of Health. As government is contemplating to construct 900 health facilities across the country, unfinished projects like Chafumbwa Rural Hospital should be indeed prioritized,” said Jobe, a renowned health rights activist.

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