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187 Cham hospitals feel sidelined in cholera fight

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Maziko Matemba

By Deogratias Mmana:

As cholera deaths continue rising, it has emerged that the government has not fully involved 187 health facilities under Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) in the fight.

Chairperson for the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Archbishop George Tambala and chairperson for Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) Bishop Fanuel Magangani, have raised concern that their exclusion from the cholera fight has dire consequences.

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They say 85 percent of Cham facilities are located in hard to reach areas where people need medical attention to cholera.

ECM and MCC are founders of Cham.

In a joint statement, Tambala and Magangani said while cholera has hit the country hard, the government has not authorised Cham to employ temporary frontline health workers to contain the epidemic.

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The statement further says that while the cholera outbreak is an emergency, the current government-funded Service Level Agreement with Cham does not cover additional costs during emergencies as is the case now.

The statement also says Cham hospitals are not supplied with the desired cholera facilities prompting the leadership to appeal for support from donors and partners.

Further, the statement says Cham has 51 health facilities in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mangochi and Zomba and these have been hardest hit as they lie in cholera hot-spot areas.

“Cham’s response to the cholera outbreak is being hampered by inadequate health care workers because Cham is not allowed by government to fill vacant positions pending payroll migration,” the statement reads.

ECM and MCC have since appealed to the government to authorise Cham hospitals to employ temporary frontline health workers.

They have also asked the government to include costs for public emergencies in the new Memorandum of Understanding which is yet to be signed.

We really need to join forces if we are to win the battle against cholera because government alone cannot win it,” reads the statement.

Ministry of Health stockperson Adrian Chikumbe said he was still consulting relevant offices for their input on the matter.

Health rights activist Maziko Matemba said Cham is one of the key stakeholders in the health sector which is also represented in the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 and Cholera.

“Let government and Cham engage. Government needs to consider stocking Cham facilities with cholera facilities to save Malawians. I hope the taskforce will look at that seriously,” Matemba said.

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