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Joyce Banda sounds SOS

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By Jameson Chauluka

Banda

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ormer president, Joyce Banda, has urged political leaders to put aside their differences and end what she called a crisis in the country’s public health sector.

Banda said she was saddened by reports that public health facilities such as Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Mwanza District Hospital and Mzuzu Central Hospital are experiencing intermittent power and water supply, posing a risk to patients and health workers.

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She then called upon President, Peter Mutharika, his estranged deputy and leader of United Transformation Movement, Saulos Chilima, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Lazarus Chakwera, and herself to unite so as to end the challenges.

“As a former head of state and a woman, I think it is unacceptable that critical operations are being postponed in our hospitals. It is unacceptable that women should fail to bath after giving birth. That is why I am saying that all of us should work together to end his problem. Personally, I do not have a problem working with the President, his Vice Saulos Chilima and Dr. Chakwera if we are doing that for Malawians.

“I believe that what we are looking at now is a disaster and the last time I checked, the Vice-President was the head of disaster management. I hope that all would rise above politics and the President would delegate that we all do our part to alleviate the problems which people are facing in the country,” she said.

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Chakwera welcomed the idea, saying he does not have a problem working with other leaders to solve national problems.

He said he was not surprised by Banda’s observations, saying the opposition has been talking about the deteriorating public health sector for a long time.

“During the last budget meeting, the MCP [Malawi Congress Party] told [the] government that there was need to increase ORT [Other Recurrent Transactions] allocation to public hospitals but the Minister of Finance [Goodall Gondwe] said ‘no’. We are ready to help but what can we do when the public budget is with the Executive?” he said.

But Minister of Information, Nicholas Dausi, who is also the government’s spokesperson, dismissed Banda’s proposal, saying it was mere political posturing to portray the Democratic Progressive Party-led government as a failure.

Malawi health sector has been hit by a shortage of doctors, medical supplies, water and power supply that leads to deaths during surgery and delivery.

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