Mzimba’s health centre goes 3 years without water

One of Malawi’s oldest and most popular heath centers around Rumphi District, Bwengu, has been operating without water since 2009 despite serving a community of about 40 000 people, Nyasa Times can reveal.

Nyasa Times visit to the health Centre this week exposed a sorry state of affairs for the community that depend on this health facility for medical treatment.

Until 2009, the heath centre, which was constructed in the early 70s, had been relying on an ancient borehole which was drilled when the centre was being built.

“Since the borehole broke down in 2009 we have been operating without water. It has been tough finding water to use when treating patients, there are times when we have no choice but collect water from our homes to assist patients,” a seemingly dejected nurse told Nyasa Times.

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The nearest borehole which is also unreliable is situated about one kilometer away from the health center.

According to the nurse, who spoke under strict condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, the situation at the facility becomes particularly ghastly and worrying during maternal services.

The health centre, which is a stone-throw away from the Mzuzu-Karonga M1 Road is situated in Mzimba North but stands very close (about 12 kms away) to Rumphi Boma and has a seven-bed capacity for expectant mothers.

“We have been reporting the issue to relevant authorities including the Member of Parliament for the area Goodal Gondwe but to no avail.

“At times we have actually agreed to stop working until authorities address the problem but on second thought we feel sorry when we see sick villagers who entirely depend on this facility coming for medical assistance,” added the nurse.

The health center provides medical treatment to over 20 villages from two Traditional Authorities- one in Mzimba and the other in Rumphi district.

The other close health facilities are Rumphi District Hospital and Ekwendeni Mission Hospital which is about 40kms away.

A patient who identified herself as a NyaChiumia corroborated with the nurse on how the water problem has affected operations of the center.

“Our MP [Gondwe] has been here, the former Minister of Health Moses Chirambo [RIP] had also been here and promised us to bring water but it was mere rhetoric. It is by the grace of God that we still
survive.

“Please publicise this problem for us so that the country knows. May be now that we have a vice president [Khumbo Kachali] who comes from Mzimba and also happens to be the minister of health something will materialise,” wished the hopeless villager.

Apart from the water problem, Nyasa Times also discovered that the health center has no bathrooms, a development that puts mothers at health risk and in an awkward situation immediately after delivering.

Instead the women have no choice but to use a dilapidated and abandoned toilet as a bathroom so that they clean themselves up once they give birth.

Every month the health centre registers about 45 pregnant mothers who give birth at the facility, according to available data at the center.

The 38-year-old health centre has 13 health surveillance assistants, one medical assistant, two nurses and seven support staff.

Nyasa Times efforts to talk to the District Health Officer for Rumphi proved futile as he was reportedly out of office after several attempts.

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