Malawians shun public hospitals
The latest Integrated Household Panel Survey (IHPS) by the National Statistical Office (NSO) has found that the number of Malawians seeking treatment at government health facilities has declined from 55 percent in 2010 to 41 percent in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) has argued that the development is not strange because Malawians are frustrated by public hospitals because they are rarely adequately helped there.
According to the survey, on the other hand, the number of Malawians seeking treatment at local pharmacies rose from 20 percent in 2010 to 28 percent in 2016.
The number of people seeking treatment at other facilities returned to 11 percent in 2016 from 2010, having declined to 10 percent in 2013.
NSO Assistant Commissioner for Statistics, Lizi Chikoti, said in an interview at a dissemination workshop of the survey results that the study did not necessarily take into account reasons for the decline in the number of people seeking treatment in public health facilities.
But in an interview yesterday, Mhen Executive Director, George Jobe, said there are things such as inadequate funding to the sector and the attitude of some health workers towards patients that is resulting in most Malawians shunning the facilities.
“We have always talked about inadequate funding to the health sector not doing justice to Malawians. Thus, I don’t find the results of the survey any surprising because most government hospitals continue lacking important materials.
“Additionally, the treatment that people get in public hospitals is sometimes not proper. We have received reports of health workers mistreating patients and you don’t expect these patients to go back there for treatment,” Jobe said.
He added that, already, public hospitals are feeling the brunt of power outages as most of them do not have standby generators while private clinics do.
“There are certain services which one can only access if there is power. For instance, dental services cannot be offered if there is no power, and private clinics are taking advantage of this because they usually have standby generators,” Jobe said.
Several stakeholders ,including the Health Committee of Parliament ,have been calling on government to quickly put in place measures aimed at sustaining the health sector, arguing that donors that are providing the largest chunk of support will not always be there.
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