The death of one of a 17-year-old girl at Mangochi District Hospital the patients was caused by a power outage, Health Minister Atupele Muluzi confirmed in Parliament after United Democratic Front (UDF) member of Parliament (MP) for Mangochi South, Lilian Patel, raised the issue in the House.
Patel raised the issue as a matter of national importance, querying what led to the death and what the government had done to ensure this does not recur.
The power failure is the reason for the patient being tipped early into inevitable death as medical personnel were waiting for a standby generator to be moved from another ward to power up the operating theatre where she was due to undergo an emergency operation.
“The hospital has generators but they were not working. By the time the electrician was called to fix the problem, the woman had died. This was complete negligence on the part of the hospital. What happened for staff not to be available at hand to fix the generator,” Patel asked.
Muluzi confirmed receiving a report of the death of the girl due to power failure at the hospital last Thursday.
He said generators at Mangochi District Hospital were operated by an electrician who is an employee of the district council.
Muluzi said sthe hospital management had dismissed the negligent electrician, adding that another electrician had been identified to reside within hospital premises.
The hospital does not have an automatic standby generator, hence the need for personnel to move a smaller generator to the operating theatre when the need arises.
“The electrician was not available and this delayed critical care to the patient. It is a regrettable and unfortunate incident which hospital management has investigated and the electrician has since been dismissed for dereliction of duty and negligence,” he said.
Dowa West Member of Parliament, Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi, reminded Muluzi of the promise he made at the height of blackouts last year, that health facilities would be prioritised, to which Muluzi said Mangochi District Hospital is prioritised and blackouts are not usual there.
Kusamba Dzonzi also asked about the policy direction that the government is taking in terms of using generators that automatically switch on the moment electricity goes off.
But, when pressed further by Dowa North legislator Enos Chitatanga, Muluzi could not commit to compensating the family of the victim.