Ombudsman faults Ministry of Health


Ombudsman Grace Malera has faulted authorities at the Ministry of Health (MoH) for failing to act on recommendations her office made after two systemic investigations regarding matters of women’s reproductive health and mental health.

Malera bared her heart yesterday in reaction to an update that MoH officials gave to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament regarding their status of compliance with determinations from the ombudsman’s office.

While Malera said she was impressed with the progress that the ministry is making on addressing issues to do with individual complaints, she insisted that its progress on structural matters leave a lot to be desired.


Malera said if recommendations in the reports titled: ‘Woes of the womb’ and ‘Out of mind, out of sight’ are adhered to, they will go a long way in correcting some of the flaws in the health delivery system.

“When you are conducting a systemic investigation, you are now addressing broader structural issues rather than individual complaints, so in these two investigation reports, we made quite elaborate directives that the MoH should have steered in terms of implementation. For both reports, the implementation is quite slow, which is against our expectation,” Malera said.

She then complained that there were serious rights violations on women’s reproductive health, in the ‘Woes of the womb’ case, and on psychiatric patients, in the ‘Out of mind, out of sight’ case.


Malera then highlighted to the committee that her office will have bilateral engagements with MoH officials to appreciate the challenges they are facing.

Asked why they have been unable to act on the recommendations in the two reports, Secretary for Health Charles Mwansambo said there has been progress and that they will soon be meeting the ombudsman to give her an update on the same.

Chairperson for the committee Peter Dimba implored the MoH to take matters of complying with ombudsman’s determinations seriously, saying most of the times they are about upholding the rights of vulnerable groups in society.

The ‘Woes of the womb’ report followed an investigation by the ombudsman after our sister paper Malawi News of June 9, 2018 carried a story in which women who had their uteruses removed at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital recounted their ordeal.

The ‘Out of mind, out sight’ report, on the other hand, came from an investigation after the Nation on Sunday of April 9 carried a story on human rights violations and acts of maladministration by the MoH in the provision of mental health service delivery at the now-closed Bwaila Psychiatric Unit.

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