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Parliament pushes for dialysis machines for Mzuzu, Zomba

Parliament’s Health Committee has said it would push for the provision of dialysis machines at Mzuzu and Zomba central hospitals for patients suffering from kidney failures.

Chairman of the Health Committee, Juliana Lunguzi, assured members of Kidney Association of Malawi, who appeared before the committee on Thursday, that she would ask the government to honour its promises to buy such machines for the two hospitals.

“Some patients from the Northern Region cannot afford to travel to Kamuzu Central Hospital [in Lilongwe] or Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital [in Blantyre] where the dialysis machines are. The Ministry of Health promised, two years ago, that they would buy machines for the two hospitals. Therefore, we want to find out why they are not buying them,” Lunguzi said.

She said there are five machines at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital but these, too, are not enough as patients go for two sessions usually in the morning and afternoon. The same applies to Kamuzu Central Hospital.

She lamented that kidney failure is a neglected condition as the government, as well as most donors, who fund 69 percent of the health budget in Malawi, pay little attention to it.

“As a country, we need to make bold decisions on such crucial matters. We are even told that the machines at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and Kamuzu Central Hospital are not [regularly] serviced; they are only serviced after they break down,” Lunguzi said.

A representative of Kidney Foundation, Samuel Kamwanje, appealed to the government to support people who require kidney transplant services abroad.

“If people cannot go for kidney transplant in our local hospitals, then they should be sent abroad, be it India or elsewhere and the government should be able to fund their treatment there,” he said.

Kamwanje also said those who go for transplant should be given good treatment when they come back home and that the government should have a budget line for this.

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