Mangochi District Hospital fire paralyzes emergency services – Report 

The fire that razed down the integrated Maternal and Child Health (MCH) block at Mangochi District Hospital has left the health facility too ‘incapacitated’ to handle emergencies as most critical equipment was destroyed.

Dr Henry Chibowa presented the report

Vicious flames tear through Mangochi Hospital

Mangochi District Health Officer (DHO), Dr. Henry Chibowa, and the District Commissioner (DC), Rev. Moses Chimphepo, disclosed this when they presented a preliminary report on the fire to the District Executive Committee and stakeholders in the district.

Chibowa said the hospital was in dire need of a list of equipment among them oxygen concentrators and CPAP machine for premature babies.

“The MCH building with all the most critical equipment and furniture were either burnt down or damaged and this is the most critical department of the hospital because that’s where all the emergency cases are handled before being taken to the wards,” explained Chibowa.

He added: “As it is, we’ll be forced to refer all emergency cases to Zomba Central Hospital but again when you look at the distance and the construction works on the Liwonde – Mangochi Road, lives would be lost on the way and this is very worrisome, to say the least.”

The DHO said apart from the damage directly caused by the fire, other equipment were damaged during the evacuation in an attempt to save them.

The hospital also lost wheel chairs, examination couches, all fridges, and freezers and all the vaccines that were stored in there.

Eight pages of the 10-page preliminary report lists equipment and items that the hospital needs immediately and among these items are 250 beds and mattresses, 4,000 bed sheets and 2,000 blankets, 17 examination couches, and 10 patients trolleys.

DC Chimphepo stressed that the damage that the fire caused was so overwhelming that there was need for immediate support from government, development partners and individuals to get the health facility up and running again.

“We are appealing to all well wishers to help us with whatever support they can either at organizational or individual levels,” said Chimphepo, adding: “Although most of the listed equipment got damaged during the hasty evacuation given the circumstances, the council is very grateful to the community’s support in evacuation of patients and the equipment during the accident.”

The DC also reported that government, through the Ministry of Health and Population Services had provided four refrigerators to the hospital for storage of vaccines and other drugs that require controlled temperature.

Meanwhile, two tents have been erected to provide temporary rooms for providing services that were initially housed in the MCH building and, according to the report, discussions are underway with the College of Medicine to allow the hospital use the college’s hostels inside the campus as a temporary service provision area.

The MCH building was 43m long by 12m wide and it housed a number of services among them antenatal clinic, under-five outpatient services, emergency triage and treatment, extended program of immunization for babies and pregnant mothers, cervical cancer screening and treatment, and family planning, HIV testing services and antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women.

According to the report, the MCH block also housed research offices for Baylor and College of Medicine and the fire also destroyed two tents and a drop box which were used as test rooms, next to the building.

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) through the Office of the Vice President has since declared the accident as disaster and the Department has assured the nation that it will do everything possible to support the resumption of services.

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