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Crisis everywhere

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The headline on the front page of The Daily Times last Thursday screamed: ‘Malawi death woes – 15 babies die in a month in Mzimba’. Now these are very worrisome statistics and developments. Even more worrisome is the fact that such a trend has been evident over a long period of time.

Infant mortality rate in the country remains on the high side. This is not entirely surprising as the health sector itself is in shambles and crucial health departments are failing to do their jobs, leading to many deaths of citizens, including infants less than a month old, which could have been entirely avoidable.

Different organisations and citizens at large have been agitating for more funding from government to the health sector to cater for modern equipment as well as good salaries for hospital staff. This has been a song that has been repeated ad nauseam for years and years but the situation is not improving.

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Instead, the population keeps growing at a very alarming and worrisome rate. The more the population grows, the higher the numbers of untimely deaths. We need to move away from seeking solutions that are not working and trying to drag along dead horses to mitigating crisis situations with solutions that can actually make a difference.

As a country, we are currently in a crisis situation. There is high demand for social services as well as for the most basic needs like staple food. There is water shortage even in key cities. The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi is failing to provide electricity t o the tiny fraction of the country that has access to electricity. Businesses are failing to cope, production has dropped and households are suffering. There is poverty in every sector and sphere of the country. Resources are scarce.

With that being said, child spacing and birth control as well as prevention of teenage pregnancies and child marriages should be a priority in the health and development sectors of the country. We cannot allow the population to keep growing, babies to keep dying and resources to keep dwindling. We can no longer afford to be myopic in our day-to-day lives.

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Redefining emergency services

Last Friday, the Capital City woke up to an inferno. A huge section of the market in Old Town was on fire. The famous ‘Mpanimpani’ has been reduced to ashes. Over 4,000 vendors and small businesses have been affected by the fire which destroyed everything in its path.

The fire was a very unfortunate incident, more so at a time when Malawians are struggling to make ends meet and revive the ailing economy. However, what is even more heartbreaking is the fact that the extent of the damage could have been mitigated had the fire department rescued the market on time.

Look, there are things we can make compromises on and there are others we should not make compromises on. Emergency services everywhere should not be compromised at whatever cost. An emergency service’s failure to handle emergencies with the much-needed urgency derails the whole purpose of it being an emergency service.

Picture the desperation of the vendors and businesspeople at the scene hands akimbo, helplessly watching the fire raze down their sources of income for over two hours before the fire

department made it to the scene. As if that was not enough, the rescuers arrived with inadequate supplies to calm the raging inferno. They did not have enough water at hand.

The delay was attributed to lack of fuel. Are we serious in this country? How can an emergency vehicle have no fuel? Our complacency as a country has reached alarming levels. We have experienced more fires in recent months than ever in the history of the country and it is beyond astonishing that the emergency services of the whole Capital City of The Warm Heart of Africa can afford not to fuel their emergency vehicles.

I hear there were not any emergency services personnel on standby either. Sad part is citizens are still having hefty taxes slashed from their salaries every month for services that are never available. Businesspeople pay monthly rentals to the Lilongwe City Council only to be left high and dry in times of desperate need.

Malawi is in a serious crisis mode and the sooner we treat this with the much-needed urgency, the better.

I rest my case.

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