KCH suspends elective surgeries: Malawi drug shortage ‘crisis’

One of Malawi’s main referral hospitals Kamuzu Central Hospital in capital Lilongwe has suspended all elective surgeries after the institution has run out of drugs which are administered to patients going for operation.

KCH is asking patients scheduled for elective surgery   operations which are not considered life-threatening –   to contact the hospital to get new appointment dates.

In a letter addressed to the director of the hospital and heads of departments dated August 18 acting head of anesthesia department Onius Mtalimanja indicated that the hospital has run out of anesthesia drugs making it impossible for the hospital to conduct operations on its patients.

“For this reason we are suspending elective surgeries with effect from tomorrow, 19 August, 2014,” reads the letter.

As of Tuesday August 19, 2014 several patients who were supposed to go for operations were discharged and forced to leave the hospital as there was nothing the hospital could do to help them.

Hospital director Jonathan Ngoma confirmed having received the letter but said the Central Medical Stores would be better placed to give more information.

Before the latest drug shortage Mtalimanja on July 30, 2014 wrote the hospital administration informing that they had run out of stock medicine such as Thiopentone, Propofol, Vecrumron, Ephedrine,Eetomidate, spinal code needles, ECG dotes while Suxamenthathonium was in short supply.

As of Monday, he said in the letter that there were only 20 ampoules of Suxamenthonium.

A doctor at the central hospital said that the only drug that is currently available is Kentamine, a drug which is used as an induction of anesthesia.

“However, Kentamine drug is not supposed be used in patients suffering with high blood pressure and those with epilepsy,” the doctor said.

CMST spokesperson Herbert Chandilanga confirmed that the Trust was aware of the situation and promised that the needed drugs will be delivered first thing in the morning of Tuesday, August 19, 2014.

Due to suspension of donor aid, Malawi Government is currently struggling to balance up its books and come up with a workable 2014/2015 national budget expected to be pegged at K743 Billion (US$1 790 361 446) and health is the one of the likely sectors to be more affected.

Already Gondwe had a rude awakening recently when donors turned back his begging bowl for support of almost K200 billion towards the health sector

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