Government and Cham in blame game over Embangweni Hospital
GOVERNMENT and the Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) are in a protracted dispute over the financial crisis that Embagweni Mission Hospital in Mzimba is currently in.
The two continue to point fingers at each other on who is responsible for the financial predicament that the hospital is in. The situation at the hospital is compromising its service delivery, and according to the hospital Director, Kondwani Zgambo the facility needs about K40 million to start operating normally.
Among other reasons, Zgambo said the government has in the last year failed to remit over K20 million to the hospital in line with the Service Level Agreement (SLA) it signed with the hospital through Cham.
In line with the agreement the facility has in recent years been providing free maternal and neonatal services to the 55,000 people in its catchment area. However, Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe in an interview said the ministry does not owe any Cham hospital.
“It should be a problem with Cham, because as far as we are concerned, we have settled all our debts with Cham facilities under that. On top of that, we currently have funding from the joint health sector fund and we don’t expect the government to be in some sort of debt with any hospital,” Chikumbe said.
He added that in the new arrangement government issues a single cheque to Cham for all the facilities under it and that it [government] is no longer responsible for the manner in which the money was apportioned.
Chikumbe said the ministry has endeavoured to clear all bills that Cham brings to its attention quarterly and thus said Cham should be answerable to the situation at Embangweni. Cham’s Executive Director.
Andrew Chikopa said the government is aware of what is going on and declined to divulge any further information. “We have an agreement with Embangweni Hospital, they know that and the government is aware of the developments,” he said.
However, Zgambo complained that Cham has not strived to explain its position to management of the hospital on the matter.
“We are now owing various service providers in excess of K35 million and most of them have stopped transacting with us, because we have run short of lines to tell on when we will give them the money,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, all the ambulances at the hospital are grounded due to lack of fuel thus posing transport challenges to patients and guardians in times of emergencies. In the wake of the imminent electricity blackouts the facility is also failing to meet the fuel costs for running the stand by generator which, according to Zgambo, requires not less than K1 million a week.
Acting Director of Health in the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) [owners of the hospital] Maggie Msukwa was not available to comment on the new development.
But in an earlier interview Msukwa asked the government and Cham to render the necessary support to institutions helping in serving Malawians
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