Hospital ‘defiance’ costs government K276 million
Failure by Bwaila Hospital officials to listen to advice from Ministry of Health (MoH) not to outsource catering service has led to the hospital spending more than what may be necessary.
The Daily Times understands that the Lilongwe District Health Office (DHO) is spending over K396 million per year through subcontracting catering services at Bwaila Hospital.
Lilongwe District Health Officer Mwai Mwale told The Daily Times that the quest to provide good quality food to its clients forced his office to subcontract catering services.
“Hospital catering services are an essential part of patient care and when you outsource it’s efficient because no extra food is dumped. The other reason … was because we don’t have food storage space since the contract also serves Mitundu and Kabudula health centres. In the beginning we used to store our food at KCH but it wasn’t just practical because we were losing so much food,” he said.
A source from the Lilongwe DHO disclosed that K33 million is paid out to Tasty Take Away per month for catering services rendered to the hospital.
It is estimated that if subcontracting was avoided the health facility could be making an annual direct cost saving of about K276 million since self-catering cannot cost above K10 million for a hospital of Bwaila’s size which treats over 18 000 patients in a year.
Lilongwe DHO hired Tasty Take Away in 2011 which means a whopping K2 billion has been spent on catering services ever since.
The source said officials at the health facility decided not to listen to advice from the Ministry of Health (MoH) to stop subcontracting catering services owing to prevalent economic hardships.
“Why should we pay the contractor over K33 million yet the office already receives beef from Petroda which is even enough for our weekly menu? Let government and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigate these issues,” said the source.
Andrew Chateka, Human Resource Officer at Petroda Malawi confirmed that his company provides food stuffs to the hospital every Thursday.
Chateka explained that they give them 150 kilogrammes (kgs) of beef, 150 kgs of rice, five kgs of tomato and five litres of cooking oil every Thursday and all these cost Petroda over K300 000.
Mwale stated that terminating the catering contract would mean failing to feed the patients proper food.
“This is the work of financially-starved people who are trying to create issues against me. Stopping the contract would mean buying food on a daily basis and that to me is shifting costs because we would still need to be paying for electricity and equipment maintenance. It’s not even true that we spend such huge amounts of money because the contractor charges about K400 per plate and we feed slightly above 18,000 clients in a year,” said Mwale.
He also dismissed allegations that he and other senior officers at the health facility are benefiting from the catering contract saying the duty of appointing a contractor falls under the Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) based at the district council.
“I don’t have any influence over the choice of contractors. For us it’s easier to manage feeding of patients through a contractor than doing so on our own. I must also state that I have never received any communication asking us to consider terminating our catering contract; as a matter of fact, what I have is letter asking us to subcontract,” said Mwale.
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