Death of pregnant women worries NGO


The Foundation for Community Support Services (Focus) Executive Director, Kossam Munthali, has raised concern over the death of three pregnant women and a child at Kasoba Health Centre in Karonga.

The health centre has been without a qualified health worker for five months since Paramount Chief Kyungu chased away nurse Patwell Silumbu from the facility.

Speaking after the launch of his organisation’s project on maternal and neonatal health on Wednesday, Munthali described the death as painful since they could have been prevented.


However, District Health Officer (DHO), Charles Sungani, downplayed the sentiments.

“A child died recently but people are exaggerating on the causes of the death, and also the number of women lost is bloated. I know of one not three,” said Sungani.

Reports indicate that after the incident in September last year, a caretaker medical assistant and other workers deserted the place in fear of the chief’s iron fist and, currently, all nurses deployed to the facility have not reported for duties due to same reason.


A visit by The Daily Times to the facility on Monday found 10 pregnant women hopelessly waiting for their time to deliver.

The women said in separate interviews that they all depend on one Health Surveillance Assistant (HSA) who they said is overwhelmed by work since he takes care of all the departments at the clinic which serves a catchment area of 25,000 people.

“Our fate lies with this one man you see in blue uniform, most of us cannot afford to go to the district hospital. Our plea to the authorities is to solve all the issues surrounding this clinic so that people are not deprived of their right to quality healthcare because of few people’s mistakes,” said one woman who opted for anonymity.

When asked on how his office is handling the issue at Kasoba, Sungani came in defence of Paramount Chief Kyungu, saying the absence of staff at the facility is not connected to the 2015 incident.

“We have deployed a nurse there and for your own information, the previous Medical Assistant went for studies but his family remained in the house so there was no way another officer could [have occupied] the house so stop blowing the issue out of proportion,” said Sungani.

Asked why it has taken his office such a long time to replace the nurse after the first one was chased away, Sungani said there were some outstanding administrative issues which have since been resolved.

The development at Kasoba Clinic, which is situated just few kilometres from Kyungu’s headquarters, featured quite often during a number of events marking the commemoration of Focus project in the district.

Wherever possible, Kyungu has avoided commenting on the matter but has referred any queries to the DHO.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health (MoH) Peter Kumpalume, who graced the launch on Wednesday, has directed that everybody who is supposed to be at Kasoba must report at the facility and that disagreements with the chief should not compromise health service delivery to the people who need it most.

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