Midwives lament scarcity of lidocaine in Malawi hospitals

There is a general outcry by nurses and midwives in Malawian hospitals over the scarcity of lidocaine, also called lignocaine.

Lignocaine which is usually sold under a brand name Xylocaine among others, is a local anaesthetic of the amino acid type. In Malawian hospitals, it is basically and commonly used in labour wards.

Publicity Secretary for the Association of Malawian Midwives (AMAMI), Keith Lipato, says midwives are concerned with the pathetic pain that women are going through as they go through some important procedures without the drug.

Keith Lipato: This is very pathetic!

“Our main concern is the scarcity of lignocaine especially in the labour ward. Most of the women are being sutured without lignocaine, causing a lot of pain to these women.

“When a woman is giving birth, there are a number of factors that can lead to a woman to have a tear or an episiotomy. A tear would come spontaneously if the baby is bigger than the birth canal and the baby might tear the woman’s private parts. Or sometimes, as midwives, when we see that the baby is bigger than the pelvis, we would do an episiotomy deliberately in order to enlarge the birth canal. Now, we are cutting these women without anaesthesia, without lignocaine. Again, we are suturing these women without lignocaine. This is very pathetic!” lamented Lipato.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe, said government is aware of the shortage of some drugs in country’s hospitals but was quick to point out that government was doing everything possible to deal with the problem.

“As a ministry, we are doing a number things to make sure that we sustain the appropriate levels of medicines and medical supplies in our facilities. We requested for more funding from treasury… We are happy that the president directed that we be given 4.5 billion Kwacha through Central Medical Stores, that would give us a boost in terms procuring medicines and medical supplies. But we are also talking to parliament that they should review our budgetary allocation,” explained Chikumbe.

AMAMI exists and strives to safeguard and promote a safe environment for mothers, neonates and their families among other objectives.

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