Lives of over 19,000 villagers from Group Village Head (GVH) Mlima in Traditional Authority Bwananyambi in Mangochi are being denied an opportunity to access quality healthcare due to government’s failure to open a healthcentre whose construction was completed in 16 years ago.
Since 1999, the communities have been inquiring from the district’s health officials about the opening of Mbalama Health Centre, but, they have been presented with different excuses.
Patients from villages under Mlima GVH pass through the unopened Mbalama Health Centre to seek medical attention at Nkumba Health Centre which is situated about 30 kilometres away.
“A lot of people are dying while we have this health centre here. How can they fail to send us doctors to start assisting us just like our friends in other parts of the country?” GVH Mlima said in an interview on the sidelines of National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust interface recently.
The health facility, which was recently fitted with solar electricity panels and a water system, was built with funding from the Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf 1).
Among others, the facility has four staff houses with electricity and water.
“Previously, we were told that doctors don’t want to come here because it is in a remote area. But I am surprised because we have other civil servants who are working in schools located here,” said Mlima.
But Mangochi DHO William Peno in a separate interview dismissed the people’s claims, saying, currently, his office is negotiating with government to open the hospital.
“The hospital was initially built as a health post, now we have seen the need to upgrade it to a health centre because the population has increased. At the moment, we are building a case for the communities to justify why the health centre should be opened quickly,” said Peno.
However, the DHO failed to give a time frame as to when his office would open the health centre, urging people to be patient as government.
“On our part we are ready to open the health facility because the population in Mangochi is increasing and there is need to increase the number of health centres in rural areas to reduce the distance people travel to access medical service. We are just waiting for government to give us a nod,” said Peno.
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