Faulty machine chokes maternity services at Bwaila Hospital


By Wezzie Gausi:

A faulty sterilising machine Thursday choked maternity services at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe, forcing the facility to send patients to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH).

But Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said the authorities are addressing the problem.


The steriliser machine, also known as autoclave, is a machine that uses steam under pressure to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores on items that are placed inside a pressure vessel.

When we visited Bwaila Hospital around 11am Thursday, we found that workers had put notices indicating that the labour ward and theatre had been temporarily closed due to lack of medical utensils.

Women we interviewed told us that they were told that there was some problem with the theatre.


One of the guardians at the facility, who opted for anonymity, said she saw three ambulances ferrying pregnant women in need of surgery to KCH.

“On Wednesday, people were being assisted at the hospital, a situation that changed yesterday, when we were told that all patients that have to be operated on will have to go to KCH,” She said.

When we visited the hospital in the afternoon, we found technicians fixing the machine.

In an interview, Kandodo Chiponda said the ministry has people who are on the ground, working on the machine.

“The problems are not big and we were in control. Nothing stopped moving at the facility. What was circulating on social media just caused false alarm to the people,” Chiponda said.

National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi President Shouts Simeza said whatever happened at the hospital serves as confirmation that the country’s public healthcare service delivery system is reeling under problems.

“Now you can believe us when we say our health systems are in shambles. We have shortage of staff and, now, people who are working have no utensils to use when working,” Simeza said.

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