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Two health centres in Karonga still closed

Two health centres namely Mpata and Kasona in Karonga still remain closed due to dilapilated infrastructure.

Medical Council of Malawi closed the two health centres last year on the grounds that they were substandard and, hence, were not serving the intended communities

“All the facilities that were closed remain as such till now. Nobody has complied yet. However, we have received reports that some NGO partners have renovated Kasona health centre but we are yet to go there to validate this,” said Kondwani Mkandawire, the Council’s Assistant Registrar responsible for professional practice.

He also explained that Tembwe Health Centre in Mchinji was closed because of water shortage problems while in-patient department of Kochilira Health Centre in the same district was also closed because it was in a very poor state.

He further revealed that X-Ray departments of Dowa and Madisi hospitals were also closed.

Dowa X-Ray machine, according to the Council, was faulty because it leaked oil and exposed people to excess radiation while the X-Ray machine at Madisi was working but was being operated by an under-qualified person.

Mkandawire said they also closed the Dental Department of St Joseph Health Centre in Thyolo because of hygiene issues, poor equipment, lack of privacy and it was being run by an under-qualified person who was trained on the job,” he said.

Mkandawire said the council closes down substandard clinics and departments to protect people’s lives.

Commenting on this, Health and Rights Education Programme executive director Maziko Matemba said the council should also probe responsible officers who failed to ensure that the clinics meet minimum standards.

“This is so sad… Ministry of Health needs to seriously investigate the issue. Many people are losing their lives because of being treated at substandard health facilities,” he said.

Malawi Healthy Equity Network executive director Martha Kwataine said the council had taken the right decision in clearing the mist that the Council only regulates private clinics only.

“The Ministry of Health should ensure that it is constructing facilities of high quality with right equipment in place. The challenge we have is that most of the budgets for districts have no allocation for maintenance of existing facilities. We seem to be obsessed with construction of new facilities at the expense of the old ones. Maintenance is key for durability and long life of any infrastructure,” she observed.

Kwataine also said substandard facilities speak volumes of things that happen behind the scenes.

“It could mean there was corruption involved in the construction process or the supervision was weak. It is high time contractors in Malawi learnt to be patriotic and have the lives of the poor people who patronise these public hospitals at heart. The closure of these facilities is denying rural ordinary Malawians from accessing health care services. It is unfortunate that Malawi as a country has adopted the ‘I don’t care attitude’ No wonder we are the poorest country and yet we have had no war,” she said.

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