By Blessings Kaunda, Mana:
A Woman at Kabuwa, Traditional Authority (T/A) Khosolo, Mzimba District, gave birth in a canoe in the presence of men after health workers refused to help her.
Reports say she was unable to deliver at Kabuwa Health Centre because health workers at the facility were on a strike, demaning salary increment from the government.
Group Village Head Chimulu, who witnessed the woman giving birth, confirmed the development.
“I was going to Dwangwa and upon arrival at Kabuwa Health Centre, I found women who were stranded after the health personnel refused to assist a pregnant woman who went to deliver, saying they were on strike demanding salary increment,” he said.
He said the health workers advised the women to go to Nkhunga Health Centre near Dwangwa Trading Centre, Nkhotakota District.
He said he started off with the women to catch a canoe along Dwangwa River for Nkhunga Health Centre.
“When we arrived at the canoe, the canoe operators were surprised to see the women trying to get on board in the condition that she was in. But after getting the news, they agreed to proceed with the woman to Nkhunga,” Chimulu said.
He said while sailing on the river, the woman started experiencing labour pains.
“We were told to close our eyes because they wanted to help their fellow woman to give birth. Eventually, we heard a baby cry,” Chimulu said.
Mzimba District Council Director of Health and Social Services, Dr Lumbani Munthali, said his office was investigating the matter.
Mzimba District Hospital spokesperson, Ellings Nyirenda, said their management was not aware of the issue.
“Therefore, we will institute investigations to establish the truth on the matter and take corrective measures in line with policies enriched in the Malawi Public Service Regulation. All in all, officers are advised to abide by their work ethics which they took an oath on,” he said.
Health Advisory Committee Chairperson, Emmanuel Zimba, said he learnt about the canoe incident from Group Village Head Chimulu on Thursday.
“This is the second time a pregnant woman has been denied a service at Kabuwa Health Centre. We are afraid that eventually people will stop seeking treatment from health facilities,” Zimba said.
In 2018, another expectant mother delivered twins by the roadside after being denied services at the same health centre.
In January, 2020, a family of teachers at Kambulaudzu Primary School lost their son, who was in Standard Two, after medical personnel refused to wake up and assist him at night, and later claimed the key to the hospital was missing.