The hot temperatures that Malawi continues to experience have led to the malfunctioning of the cold-room at Chikwawa District Hospital Mortuary, authorities have confirmed.
Chikhwawa District Health Office (DHO) spokesperson, Settie Piriminta, confirmed the development in a telephone interview on Monday.
“We had a heatwave and frequent blackouts which could mistakenly be regarded as breakdowns. During the time of extreme heat, the performances of equipment like cold-rooms, air conditioners and generators get compromised, even the gensets would just stop running, as such mortuary attendants were forced to leave the mortuary open to allow a bit of aeration and avoid foul smell,” he said.
According to Piriminta, the excessive heat also caused the quick decomposition of dead bodies thus increasing the risk of infections.
This, he said, has forced hospital authorities to order for temporary storage of dead bodies to manage the situation as they await the weather to improve.
“Dead bodies are currently being kept for an average of 24 hours, need I say that we have a recurring problem with the cold-room which technicians have been working on for quite some time,” Piriminta said.
He said Chikhwawa DHO has a new cold-room which was given to them by the government through the Ministry of Health and is yet to be installed due to lack of a proper structure.
Piriminta was, however, non-committal on the amount of money needed to put up the structure.
“We have another new cold-room which the hospital was given by the Ministry but what is remaining is to construct a new structure where this cold-room will be installed as a long-term solution but, as a short-term solution assessment will be done on this cold-room and fix where necessary, but otherwise when the weather improves it functions normally,” he said.
Some district hospitals in the country such as Karonga and Rumphi have also been facing challenges with their cold-rooms with reports indicating that some officials were charging people for mortuary services which are supposed to be free-of-charge.
Ministry of Health spokesperson, Joshua Malango, said the government has been working with the specific district councils to replace and repair the broken ones.
“Issues of cold-rooms are dealt with at central level, in conjunction with the councils, but let me get back to you,” Malango said.
Malawi is among the southern African countries that have been experiencing the hot temperatures rising to 45 degrees Celsius.