The year 2018 has started on a bad note for the country’s health sector as some public hospitals face an acute shortage of bed linen and beds.
Ironically, this is happen when the government has spent K1 billion to purchase top-of-the-range vehicles for principal secretaries, which is a case of misplaced priorities.
The problem is in both urban and rural facilities where patients sleep on the floor and being exposed to more infections.
In most instances, patients admitted to hospitals and have a chance to be allocated a bed are asked to bring their own beddings.
A nurse and midwife at Enyezini Health Centre in Mzimba Masuweni Botha confirmed the situation at the health facility.
“Our maternity wing has a capacity of up to 20 beds but we have six beds only. In times of high demand, some of the patients are forced to sleep on the floor, which is not healthy.
“With the numerous challenges that we are facing, I do not think linen could be among the priorities even for our authorities, because if you look around, we lack basics such as padlocks for our doors to safeguard the few items that we have,” she added.
The situation is no different at Malidade Hospital in Mzimba North, a facility which is in dire need of beds and beddings.
Hospital-in-charge, Justina Nyirenda, decried that the absence of such items continues to compromise the running of the facility in terms of infection control.
Such was the case at Rumphi District Hospital and Mzuzu Central where we reported last year of patients being asked to bring own bedsheets and blankets when admitted to the two facilities Speaking after being discharged from MCH last Friday, Macleen Kumwenda from Ekwendeni said: “It is disgraceful, we need more commitment from the government it terms of alleviating some of these challenges.”
The revelations come two weeks after Minister of Health (MoH) Atupele Muluzi spoke strongly against theft of medical supplies such as beddings and equipment during his visit to Karonga.
In Chikwawa, for instance MoH interdicted two senior officers for allegedly being involved in a 28-matress scam. Asked on why government is not paying attention to the problem, spokesperson for MoH Joshua Malango said in an emailed response to our questionnaire that the responsibility of purchasing such items falls within the mandate of the facilities at council level.
“We no longer control budgeting and purchasing of linen, drugs and everything its councils that do. It is therefore their duty to buy these, if it’s to do with finances and priorities, they can be buying in chunks,” Malango said.
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