The National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives (Nonm) has described as ‘shameful’ Ministry of Health’s claims that no child died at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) after a power outage affected service delivery on Christmas.
Nonm President, Dorothy Ngoma, yesterday said the government is lying because it cannot come in the open to say the deaths were not due to power outages.
She said equipment such as oxygen concentrators need electricity to run; hence, deaths are bound to occur in the event that power supply has been abruptly disrupted.
“Three minutes is even [long] enough for one to lose life, especially when the machines stop working when an individual is placed on life support. We cannot be lied to; the arguments by the ministry are lame,” Ngoma said.
She added that the government has been taming the electricity supply crisis for a long time and it is high time it provided electricity to the citizenry for people to stop struggling and dying because of preventable causes.
“If they are interested in knowing if, really, Malawians are suffering, they have to visit them in hospitals and see for themselves. There is no way electricity supply can be [cut] off for a long time and expect people to be fine. People are not healing fast because of electricity [supply challenges] as well.” Ngoma said.
Health Minister, Atupele Muluzi, released a statement refuting The Daily Times story that four children had died on Christmas following a one-hour electricity blackout which rendered ventilator oxygen machines useless.
Our story was backed by eyewitnesses, including lawmaker Alex Major, who was at the hospital with a relation at the time of the blackout.
Following our story on Wednesday, December 27, Muluzi instructed Secretary for Health, Dan Namarika, to conduct an investigation into the issue.
According to the Ministry of Health, their findings show that the first baby died due to a severe case of malaria and the second one was suffering from a severe medical condition and arrived at the admission ward late for treatment.
Ministry of Health spokesperson, Joshua Malango, also highlighted that no death was caused because of loss of power.
Meanwhile, Namarika has said 100 kilowatts of solar power from the recent Global Fund grant would be installed at KCH in early January.
While this is not a total solution, it will go some way in supporting the hospital’s power needs.
Incessant blackouts have become the order of the day in the country and, so far, they have brought companies to their knees, affected households and led to the closure of a number of small-scale enterprises.
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