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Patients starve as hospitals in Malawi run out food

The health of patients admitted to Mangochi and Mulanje district hospitals risk deteriorating as a food crisis has hit the two facilities.

The situation has left hundreds of patients at the hospitals starving and hospital staff has been advising patients and guardians to find their own means of getting food.

Investigations by The Sunday Times indicate that the two facilities are reeling under acute maize shortages and that for a good part of this week patients have been going without food.

The Sunday Times understands that Mangochi District Hospital requires at least seven bags of maize and three bags of beans in a week to feed patients.

“Recently the hospital bought 100 bags of maize from private traders, but it appears all that has been consumed as the numbers of patients admitted keep increasing.

It’s pathetic since patients rely on the food we provide and with this situation the drugs won’t function in their systems,” said a health worker at the hospital.

The health worker, who opted for anonymity, described the situation at the hospital as unfortunate and blamed it on insufficient funding.

“The Other Recurrent Transactions (ORT) [allocation] we get from the District Commissioner’s office is just meagre and it can’t suffice our monthly requirements,” said the clinician.

But Mangochi hospital spokesperson, Harold Kabuluzi, said the situation was normalising advising patients and guardians not to worry.

In Mulanje, The Sunday Times understands that relatives and guardians are being forced to bring their own food stuffing while many others who do not have relatives nearby have gone days without food.

Mulanje District Health Officer, Khuliena Kabwere, refused to comment on the matter and referred us to the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) spokesperson.

However, a nurse-midwife at the hospital confirmed that the food situation was dire.

“Imagine a woman who has just delivered going for the whole day or two without proper food… This is unacceptable and it is making our work very hard. Sometimes we are forced to provide food to patients on our own,” said the source.

MoH spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe, said it is unpleasant for patients to go without food for days, but maintained that the ministry was doing its best to alleviate the problem.

“The ORT allocations to these two hospitals were just [sic] enough to enable them to buy food. It is not a pleasant situation for patients to go without food. It is good that we have been notified of the situation and we will look into it shortly,” said Chikumbe.

For the past months the country’s hospitals have been reducing food rations to patients largely due to insufficient funding.

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