Malawi government is scalling down on patient meals as food budgets fall, health figures reveal meals in public hospitals from three a day to one a day.
Hospitals affected include Bwaila District Hospital in Lilongwe where admitted patients have been told that they will be having one meal a day from the normal three meals
The hospital’s chief medical officer Dr Ethel Lambikani confirmed the development, saying the Ministry of Health was consulted and informed before a decision was made,
The majority of patients at this hospital are those referred from rural health facilities and largely impoverished.
The hospital food budgets are being cut across the nation.
National Organisation for Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (Nonm) chairperson Dorothy Ngoma has described the development as a ‘worrying example of government irresponsibility.
She said nurses are “worried “with the situation, saying the right for health is a basic human right and is guaranteed by the Constitution, “but we continue to experience wanton disregard for the right to health by government. Instead of funding the poor access to health, what is government doing with our taxes?”
However, Minister of Health Jean Kalilani has expressed no knowledge of the situation and told a local paper that she could not comment “on something Ii don’t have information on.”
Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe attributed the reduction of meals for patients in some hospitals to funding woes, saying Treasury is failing to support the health budget
“It is worth observing that when we submit our budgets to Treasury, it is based on need, but these budgets get trimmed based on projections of earnings. However, what is given in a month. This puts strain on centres to prioritise on spending,” said Chikumbe as quoted by Nation on Sunday.
Malawi Equity Health Network (Mhen) executive director Martha Kwataine also told the paper that the development is a signal of “a very big crisis”
She said: “You cannot take medication on an empty stomach. It’s the same hospitals which tell people to eat first before taking drugs
“As a referral hospital, Bwaila admit very poor people from outside the city, and the sick people cannot work on their own to get food. At stake is not just the right for health, but also the right to life, these people can die,” said Kwataine.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :