Shortage of facilities in Malawi’s hospitals continues to rear its ugly head at Chirumba rural health centre in Karonga where male and female patients are forced to share a ward due to lack of space.
The situation has created discomfort among patients bearing the conservative cultural nature of people in the area.
In Malawi, and Karonga in particular, it is a taboo for males and females who are not married to “sleep together.”
And, as a result of the development at Chirumba some male patients are forced to use their own transport to go to the district’s referral hospital so they can have “some peace of mind.”
Karonga District Hospital (KDH) is 72 kilometres away from Chirumba.
Nyasa Times learnt that health officials that the facility shutdown the male ward due to poor conditions last month, leaving the female and under-five wards.
“We are uncomfortable here, as women; we are failing to take care of our patients properly. The officials have failed us. Only those who are close to this hospital can afford to smile but not those far. We have been like this for almost a month and this is forcing other guardians to take their patients back home despite being in critical condition,” Lea Mwafulirwa, one of the guardians, said.
Despite admitting to have closed the male ward at the premise, health officials denied reports of mixed-sex ward.
Speaking to Karonga Diocese’s Tuntufye FM, one of the officials, Isaac Mkandawire, said male patients who are supposed to be admitted at Chilumba health center are being cared accordingly.
“That is not true; we have never combined male and female patients in one ward. Normally critical patients are being referred to Karonga hospital which is regarded as a referral,” he said.
Health rights activist have described the situation as a violation of patients’ dignity and right to privacy.
They call on Ministry of Health to intervene, saying he mixing of male and female patients, particularly expectant women is ‘very demeaning to women.’
Government needs to prioritise construction of maternity wards in other health facilities across the country and provide adequate medical equipment in all village clinics, says the activist.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :