Malawi could treat most medical referral cases no need to go to India — High Commissioner

Indian High Commissioner to Malawi, Suresh Kumar Menon said 40 per cent of Malawian patients sent for treatment in India would have been treated in the country  if the public hospitals had adequate medical equipment and specialist care.

Part of the donated equipement

Kumar Menon was speaking at Mzuzu Central Hospital Wednesday when his government donated medical equipment worth $500 000 (about K368 million).

“It is my hope that this equipment with the training which we will provide to some Malawian doctors will contribute towards the reduction of such referral cases,” he pointed out.

He added: “The general perception among our doctors in India is that 40 to 50 percent of patients Malawi sends to India do not even need to go there. There is treatment available here. It is just a question of proper diagnosis and capacity building.”

The High Commissioner noted that to ensure that the county’s hospitals provide excellent services; the Indian Government has sent 20 clinicians to be trained in India to improve their professionalism.

“We send some of patients in critical conditions to other countries, but I feel the number of patients who are referred to India to treatment can be reduced with the availability of good and updated equipment and well trained health personnel,” Menon stated.

He said the Indian Government decided to donate the equipment to the country in response to the 2016 Government’s request following the cordial relationship which exists between India and Malawi.

On his part, Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi said government has put in place several measures to ensure that all patients are treated locally in the quest to attain Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Three on universal health coverage.

He said the India Government has trained several cardiologists and oncology surgeons and also offered scholarships to 20 clinicians to do specialist medical training in India.

Said Muluzi: “As a country, we are also in the process of completing the first cancer centre which will be a centre of excellence within the Malawi health sector. We also now have the Mercy James Paediatric Centre at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.”

Muluzi commended the Indian Government for the donation saying the gesture is an indication of how close the partnership is between the two countries.

“The grant has come at a very opportune moment.  Mzuzu Central hospital was commissioned in 2000. Most medical equipment is deemed to have an effective life span of 10 years.  Unfortunately, lack of resources meant that the team at the hospital had to do with what was working.

“They were sending their laundry to other facilities such as Rumphi District Hospital which was both inefficient and expensive. Some patients were re-referred to Lilongwe for some forms of treatment,” the Minister explained.

Muluzi pointed out that the donation meant that the hospital was able to update the ageing equipment and reinforce the capacity of health services which he said it is clear evidence of commitment towards achieving universal health coverage.

He advised health worker at the hospital to take care of the equipment for the benefit of patients.

The donation included sterilization and disinfection, anesthesia and critical care, radiology sterilization and disinfection equipment and medical furniture.

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