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Overcrowding chokes Kamuzu Central Hospital

Overcrowding of patients, understaffing, shortage of drugs and equipment are choking service delivery at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, officials have said.

KCH Director Jonathan Ngoma made the observation Friday when Health Minister Jappie Mhango visited the facility to appreciate some of the challenges the hospital is facing.

Ngoma told the minister that the hospital was initially built to have 800 beds but is admitting over 1,200 patients.

He said the situation has forced the hospital to turn the verandas of some wards into sleeping areas.

“In addition, we have a critical shortage of staff housing in Lilongwe. Rentals in Lilongwe are extremely expensive forcing most members of staff to live very far from the hospital, thereby affecting the time they report for work,” Ngoma said.

He said the solution to overcrowding could be building another hospital in Lilongwe to act as a district hospital.

“There is also need for another central hospital. Because, as you can see, KCH is catering for 43 percent of the Malawi population. You know the Central Region has 7.5 million people out of a population of 17.5 million Malawians. So, in essence, we are looking at Central East and Central West.

“If you look at the South, Zomba Central Hospital is looking at South East, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital is looking after South West, so as for KCH, even dialysis and cancer patients is looking after people from the Northern Region. So, KCH is overwhelmed,” Ngoma said.

Mhango admitted that KCH is facing many challenges adding that government intends to build a district hospital in Lilongwe.

“We have a few other hospitals, like in Area 25, we have one that has been expanded, it is now able to cater for more patients but that is still not enough,” Mhango said.

The tour also saw Mhango visiting construction site of the Cancer Centre at KCH. Mhango said he was impressed with progress on the facility currently reported at 95 percent.

According to the contractor of the project, the facility is expected to be completed by end of September.

However, the visit revealed that the most important facility of the centre, the radio-graphic unit is yet to start, following disagreements with contractor on the issue of its bunker.

Mhango urged the contractor to speed up the construction of the unit so that they decongest KCH.

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