QECH sanitation situation improves, Malawi drugs shortage worsens

The concerns of deteriorating hygienic conditions that engulfed Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) following days without water a couple of days ago have now vanished as water supply has been fully restored at Malawi’s biggest referral  hospital.

A spot check conducted by Nyasa Times revealed that sanitation problems no longer exists and that toilets are relatively clean and fully operational, preventing people from using the nearby bushes to respond to call of nature.

Hospital administrator MacDonald Nkhonjera said the sanitation situation was indeed critical when the main water 1 millimetre distribution pipe for the hospital got broken due to construction works within the hospital premises.

Nkhonjera: Sanitation situation now improves

“You see, this hospital was built long time ago and there must have been some lapses in terms of planning in case of future expansion exercises. Unknowingly, our friends from College of Medicine put up a structure where the pipe also ran through and it was a concrete slab that broke the pipe,” Nkhonjera told Nyasa Times in Blantyre.

He added that the hospital was immediately plunged into a water shortage crisis that was feared could cause spread of water-bone diseases such as diarrhea .

The hospital administrator observed that upon realization of the crisis, management moved quickly to rectify it, using the hospitals maintenance team.

However, he said Blantyre Water Board were drafted in as experts to expedite maintenance works, which he said proved “quite worthwhile” as the works did not take as longer as anticipated.

“We had to re-route the main distribution pipe; Blantyre Water Board supplied us with a 70-metre long pipe for that purpose and I can assure you that all is well now,” Nkhonjera said, recalling that during the crisis, ward 6 A and the surgical ward were the worst affected.

Meanwhile, a snap survey at the hospital revealed that necessary drugs, particularly antibiotics, and other medical supplies were in short supply forcing medical personnel to only prescribe medication for the patients to source and buy them on their own at private pharmacy stores.

However, Nkhonjera refused to discuss with Nyasa Times the medical supplies situation at QECH, saying chief hospital administrator, Themba Mhango would be better placed to comment. Mhango was reportedly out of office on official errands.

Nkhonjera said in any case, spokesperson of the ministry of Health Henry Chimbali has been in the media recently explaining that there was indeed shortage of drugs in many public medical institutions occasioned by the shortage of foreign exchange.

Chimbali was quoted in the local press as saying that it was not government’s policy to ask patients to buy their own drugs and that government is doing everything possible to make medicines, drugs and other medical supplies available in all public institutions.

The drug shortage crisis has also hit the public clinics in Blantyre are run by the district health office in partnership with the Blantyre City Assembly. They include Bangwe, Chilomoni, Limbe, Ndirande, South Lunzu, Zingwangwa and Civic Centre, among others.

No drugs: Limbe clinic

“I have been given prescription and the doctor has advised me to but it at the pharmacy in Limbe. I do not have money now to afford medicine,” Gowa Chibambo, a security guard with G4 Security and a resident of Chimula Township told Nyasa Times at Limbe Clinic.

A nurse on duty at Bangwe Township Clinic said the drug shortage situation had become so pathetic that “we even feel ashamed to face patients”. She preferred anonymity.

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