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Minister calls for coordination in Covid-19 fight

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George Jobe

Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has disclosed that, from next week, the government will form a coordinated front to harmonise Covid-19 initiatives.

“From next week, we will create a coordination committee which will help and coordinate all the initiatives in this fight. As a ministry, it is us who identify our needs and gaps.

“Of course, there is an initiative which is working with Kamuzu Central Hospital [officials]; that, too, is welcome. All I will say is that those hospitals receiving the support; please use it for the intended purpose,” she said.

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Although President Lazarus Chakwera announced that, from the time he declared a State of National Disaster on Tuesday last week, people and organisations of good will would now be channelling resources through Office of the President Cabinet, a number of initiatives continue running parallel to this initiative.

But, in his address to the nation Sunday, Chakwera applauded the efforts of private citizens raising funds for the fight against the pandemic, further urging the private sector to follow suit.

“Government resources are not enough. I therefore applaud the efforts of private citizens who are already running capital campaigns to raise money to go towards these needs. I would like to call on private sector companies to follow this example and practice their corporate social responsibility in this critical hour. If the Malawian people have been there for your business and given your company profits, you own the Malawian people life-saving support during this dark hour,” he said.

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Among the private initiatives, Stanley Onjezani Kenani is leading an initiative aimed at raising money for the purchase of Covid-19 supplies, with gas cylinders top on their list.

He said the equipment would be donated to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Kamuzu Central Hospital and Mzuzu Central Hospital.

“Empty gas cylinders alone cost about K110,000, refills of oxygen cost around K64,000 per refill and then there is need for flow meters. Government cannot have unlimited resources to be procuring these supplies for all the hospitals across the country.

“We are working with the Society of Medical Doctors of Malawi and the hospitals themselves so that what we procure is in sync with what they need but, for now, it is clear that gas cylinders are top on their wish list,” said Kenani in a live chat on social media yesterday.

He also announced the formation of a board comprising Victor Mithi, who is President of the Society of Medical Doctors of Malawi, Thandie Nyaka and himself to oversee operations of the fund.

Another initiative championed by Nicholson Kumwenda is targeting to raise up to K50 million for a similar goal using the official bank details of the Society of Medical Doctors of Malawi itself and they, too, have oxygen cylinders topping their list.

Health rights activist George Jobe concurs with Kandodo Chiponda on the need to join hands.

He added that there was a need for transparency and accountability in these initiatives.

“In times of pandemics, private participation in raising funds is always appreciated. However they should not just fundraise for the sake of fundraising. These initiatives should also work with the President’s initiative so that the needs on the list of the President’s initiatives are ticked if met to avoid duplication,” Jobe said.

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