Cholera exposes personnel, equipment shortage problem


For a hospital that started offering services in September 1996, Machinga District Hospital (MDH) was supposed to be well equipped, personnel and equipment-wise, by now.

However, the current cholera outbreak has exposed deficiencies in most health facilities, ranging from inadequate personnel to lack of equipment.

MDC is one of the facilities that are facing challenges to deal with the cholera outbreak. This came to the fore when journalists visited the facility during a media tour which the Ministry of Health organised last week.


The tour took journalists to Machinga, Mangochi and Balaka districts.

At the time of the visit, Machinga District Cholera Treatment Centre Unit had 79 cholera admitted patients while Balaka had 10.

Like most district hospitals, almost all curative treatments at primary and secondary level can be carried out in Machinga District, with only a few special cases for tertiary care— such as neuro-surgery or gastrointestinal endoscopy— being referred to central hospitals in Blantyre and Zomba cities.


Machinga District Medical Officer Chimwemwe Yailo told reporters that the outbreak has overwhelmed the district hospital as it does not have adequate staff and beds, among other things, to support cholera patients.

She said some cholera patients get treatment in the corridors while others sleep on the floor as the facility’s Cholera Treatment Unit cannot accommodate them all.

“We are grateful that some of our partners donated materials to us but beds are not enough at the cholera camp. [As of today] we have 79 patients, with only 30 beds. That is why some patients are sleeping on the floor. We, definitely, need more beds at Machinga Cholera Treatment Unit,” Yailo said.

Balaka District Chief Preventive Officer Blessings Chitsime said there is a need to engage key players to successfully mitigate, prevent and control cholera cases in the country.

“Successful cholera prevention and control depend upon team concerted efforts. As such, we are engaging local leaders, village heads, traditional authorities and religious leaders to assist in disseminating right information about cholera,” Chitsime said.

Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said last week that the ministry is in the process of recruiting health surveillance assistants.

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