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Malawi government to privatise mortuaries

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Following a series of shocking incidents of breakdown which led to decomposition of corpses in several public mortuaries, government is finally planning to privatise all mortuaries across the country, The Daily Times has learnt.

Minister of Health Jean Kalilani confirmed this in an interview saying this will be done in a bid to improve efficiency and quality.

She said government has set up a task force to look into the feasibility of the plan and how it can work out considering that most mortuaries are out-dated and do not deliver quality services.

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“Most mortuaries were built long time ago when the country’s population was also small. Now the population has grown and not meeting the current demand because of their deteriorated state,” Kalilani said.

The Minister pointed out that government eyes Public- Private Partnership (PPP) on this plan adding that if this is implemented, it will not be a new thing to Malawi since College of Medicine in Blantyre is already doing that.

“We have to change our mind set and define what we want. It’s important to pay and get good services other than get something sub-standard for free,” she said emphasizing that the taskforce will consider poor rural people who die while going for treatment especially at central hospitals.

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Health activists have welcomed this development saying it will enable hospitals to concentrate on their core business of saving lives.

Executive Director for Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) Martha Kwataine says while this is a good move by government, it should also consider making means for poor people who go to the hospitals on referral.

“This will make government concentrate on its role of saving lives not dead bodies. They are a responsibility of relatives,” she said.

Executive Director for Health and Rights Education Programme, Maziko Matemba said mortuary management is just a supplementary service but hospitals are generally not supposed to be operating mortuaries.

“Other countries are already doing this. I believe conditions of most mortuaries have deteriorated because there has been lack of ownership.

If this is run by someone else, they would run it cautiously,” he said.

The Daily Times has learnt that at the moment, relations basically spend K2, 500 for embalming, K1, 000 for washing and dressing of their departed loved ones and would be charged K1,000 per night for storage at some private mortuaries while others charge a flat fee of K5,000.

Kalilani said that privatisation of mortuaries is part of reforms government is undertaking.

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