Malawi’s major central hospital, Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe has suspended its laboratory services just weeks after it closed down its x-ray operations, a sign that health services in this impoverished nation are collapsing.
A memo seen by Nyasa Times from Hospital director Jonathan Nkhoma to members of staff says all patients seeking lab services should be directed to private hospitals.
Nkhoma says the lab services will resume after the lab equipment has been maintained but has not indicated when.
Some patients found at the hospital expressed surprise and asked the government to intervene the soonest.
“We can’t afford services at private hospitals, it is expensive,” said a lady who looked confused after a clinician turned her away.
The x ray department has also closed down due to an equipment break down reducing KCH to a mere health centre.
The situation in other hospitals is not good either as the government funding to ministries, including that of health, is erratic and in most cases their budgets are cut massively following donor money freeze due to theft and mismanagement forcing the health sector to literally collapse.
There are also reports of acute shortages of medicine in some public health facilities with patients being turned away or told to buy the drugs even basic painkillers like panado.
In his state of the nation address on Friday in parliament, President Peter Mutharika doubted if donors will ever rerurn, urging Malawians to persevere in the harsh economic times.