Male, female patients share hospital ward in Karonga

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.

Male and female patients are being admitted to the same wards

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.

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john telford
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john telford

we had mixed wards in UK for about 5 years in UK but after many complaints it was discontinued , and rightly so .

Maya Phiri
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Maya Phiri

i feel sorry for Malawi. when our health facilities are poor when Malawians are suffering for better health services it is the same time our legistrators are busy sharing 22 milion each from the 4 billion the suufering Malawians contributed through tax. kodi tilibe chison, tilibe umunthu kodi ndindani analembedwa mumbiri ya dziko la lapansi coz anali ndi ndalama zambiri? Tapitani ku Kamzuzu Central Hospital ku serious ward for childrens, 3 or 4 kids are sharing same bed. y cant you take that 4 Billion and improve our health facilities than being greedy….Malawians are suffering Malawians are crying. hear us… Read more »

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