Maternity wing stays non-operational for six years
While the country is grappling with maternal health problems, a maternity wing at Jalawe Health Clinic in Rumphi has not been functional since the facility was constructed six years ago due to lack of necessary equipment.
One of the health workers, who opted for anonymity, said in an interview on Monday that the wing has since dilapidated and can no longer support labour and maternity services even if it meant constructing the much needed placenta pit among others.
According to the worker, some of the crucial amenities lacking at the facility are beds, an observation room and also running water.
“Apparently the problem has been compounded because the wing is now dilapidated, the doors, windows and frames have all been wasted by termites since the place has been idle from 2010 and it means extra costs,” said the worker.
Adding: “However, I should stress that the major problem has been lack of a placenta pit because after giving birth the waste from the woman, especially the placenta, need proper and safe disposal to avoid health hazards to other people.”
He then disclosed that the clinic receives at least 10 expectant women on daily basis who are referred to other facilities.
Chairperson for Church and Society in the Livingstonia Synod of the Church for Central African Presbyterian (CCAP), Geoffrey Mkandawire, decried the development saying it frustrates government’s initiatives of enhancing maternal and neonatal health in the country.
According to Mkandawire, pregnant women are forced to travel distances of an average of 10 Kilometres to Luzi, Mzokoto and Livingstonia clinics to access maternity services.
“We have lost lives of women and babies that could otherwise be saved if the maternity wing at Jalawe was up and running, this is why we are calling on the Rumphi District Health Office officials to save the situation,” he explained.
Mkandawire said in the year 2015, a team from the DHOs office went to the clinic for assessment but members of the community have not heard from them since then.
But when called for comment on Tuesday, spokesperson for Rumphi DHO Bwanalori Mwamlima, differed with Mkandawire and said no assessment has ever been done at the clinic.
He said the Jalawe facility has for years been operating as a dispensary and the decision to upgrade it to a clinic was hatched not more than two years ago.
“You may be aware that the facility at Jalawe was a European Union Project and initially it was a dispensary. After realising the gaps regarding maternal and neonatal health we resolved that it should be rendering labour and maternity services, so it is not an issue of negligence from our side or the donor,” said Mwamlima.
He however, disclosed that his office is yet to raise money for purchase and erection of a placenta pit and said other alternatives will be employed instead.
“We will soon be done with our assessment and rehabilitation work will commence as we already have a nurse on site, a midwife and a clinical officer have already been identified,” he added.
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