Life lost at Ntchisi hospital as workers strike continue

A death has been registered at Ntchisi District Hospital barely a day after workers downed tools following a delay in their September salaries, Nyasa Times understands.

A patient died in the male ward after staying for hours without medical attention around eleven o’clock in the morning on Monday. And the body couldn’t be taken to the mortuary as the attendants too have joined the striking health workers at both the main hospital and other health centres in the district.

A guardian to the deceased who spoke on condition of anonymity told Nyasa Times that in addition to not getting medical attention, the hospital isn’t providing food to patients.

“The kitchen staff is also on strike,” said the guardian who hails from Kasakula Village in the district.

Kwataine:  More funding for health serviices needed
Kwataine: More funding for health serviices needed

He added: “It means those of us who come from distant places have to survive on empty stomachs.”

Nyasa Times observed a score of patients being advised by the district hospital’s medical personnel to try private hospitals.

“But we can’t pay for private hospitals,” complained one patient.

Ntchisi District Health Officer (DHO) Webster Chibambo said the problem was a national one.

“We’re trying to convince staff that the problem isn’t only for Ntchisi as a hospital,” said Chibambo.

But the workers at the hospital are taking the argument with a grain of salt.

“You don’t expect us to work with empty stomachs, unpaid bills, do you?” a nurse at the hospital quizzed this reporter.

In the last two weeks there have also been strikes at Dedza District Hospital and Kamuzu Central Hospital over delayed September salaries.

Meanwhile, Malawi Health Equity Network (MEHN) executive director Martha Kwataine has said government must quickly address the woes rocking the health sector in the country.

“It is very sad because in health it is a question of life and death,” Kwataine told a local radio.

She said that much as it is unethical for health workers to down tools considering the dos and don’ts of their profession, it was also their right to voice out their concerns on government’s failure to pay them in time.

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