Malawi health workers ‘will be prioritised’ for coronavirus safety – Govt

The government has pledged to prioritise the safety of frontline health staff in Malawi for coronavirus (Covid-19)  amid concerns about personal protective equipment.

Mhango inspecting Ntchisi hospital
Minisfer Mhangi un one of the isolation centres mounted at Ntchisi District Hospital
Minister of Health Mhango addressing staff at Ntchisi hospital
Temperature testing to check Covid-19 symptom
Minister Kasaila being briefed at Dedza District Hospital
Zinkanda briefing Minister Jooma (r) in Chikwawa
Minister Jooma being briefed about isolation centre in Chikwawa

Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 ministers made the the pledge on Tuesday in separate events.

Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, who chairs the Special Cabinet Task Committee on Covid-19,  visited Ntchisi wher he inspected the district hospital to appreciate its preparedness.

Speaking  to health workers, Mhango said arrangements are being made to ensure there is enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers to deal with the coronavirus.

He  assured that health workers were the “first priority” in terms of ensuring they had enough PPE.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Francis Kasaila, when he visited Dedza District Hospital assured that government will ensure enhanced health and wellbeing support for frontline staff.

“As government we will make sure that health workers are protected against this disease so that they can in turn assist the public without fear of getting infected,” said Kasaila.

“ We will make available all necessary personal protective equipment to health workers as well as grounds staff to enable them work in a safe environment,” the minister added.

In his report to the Minister, District Commissioner (DC) for Dedza, Emmanuel Bulukutu pointed out that the protective materials so far received from government which include masks, overalls, sanitisers and gloves have been duly shared among health workers but called on the need for more.

Bulukutu also explained that the district has made available a shelter, which has been built with funds from Unicef as an isolation and treatment centre for possible Covid-19 cases.

He also pointed out on the need for the laboratory within the district hospital to be able to test Covid-19 and report results to suspected patients within the shortest possible time.

Currently, samples of suspected patients are being sent to Public Health Institute of Malawi in Lilongwe for analysis.

In Chikwawa,  Minister of Transport and Public Works, Ralph Jooma, who is alsi in the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19,  said Central Medical Stores and Unicef have been entrusted to buy the necessary equipment.

“We know we have so many pharmaceutical companies manufacturing what we need, and we have advised all of them to follow proper procedures so that we can start buying from them before we import,” he said.

The minister, therefore, said his visit was to verify and confirm preparedness of Chikwawa as a district in the fight against COVID-19.

He then urged the District Health Office (DHO) to record all gaps that need to be covered so that government takes note of them and see areas it needs to intervene.

“It is our aim to ensure that every facility is well equipped. We are prepared as government to protect everyone, especially our health workers so that we do not have anyone of them contracting the virus,” he said.

On his part, Stalin Zinkanda, Director of Health and Social Services for Chikwawa DHO commended support they received from various partners in the district.

He said although such was a development, the facility still lacked necessary personal protective equipment.

Taking his turn, Deputy Director in the Department of Quality Management in the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dr Malangizo Mbewe concurred with the minister on some action points.

He added the ministry was also conducting staff trainings on the same, saying they were also in the process of distributing Personal Protective Equipment to all the districts in the country.

Chikwawa recorded its first COVID-19 case early April and has about 24 travelers who are being followed.

Malawi has so far reported 16 Covid-19 cases and these are in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Nkhotakota and Chikwawa.

Government continues to ask the public to observe and respect the preventative measures, which have been put in place to avoid further spread of the corona virus.

Globally, over one million eight hundred thousand people have been infected with the corona virus and over one hundred thousand have lost their lives in this pandemic.— Additional reporting by Steve Chirombo, Mana

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