CHRR; CEDEP Call for lasting solution to persistent crisis in the public hospitals
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) remains one of the leading human rights non-governmental organisations in Malawi. It was founded in February 1995 as a non-profit organization registered under the Trustees Incorporation Act of 1962. Since its inception CHRR has championed its work at national level, SADC level through the SADC Human Rights Defenders Network at which it sits in the board, continental level through the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights using its observer status, and at UN level through different UN mechanisms such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR).
The Centre for Development of the People (CEDEP) is a registered human rights organisation under the Trustees Incorporation Act of 1962. The organization was established in November 2005 in order to address the needs and challenges of minority groups in Malawi in the context of human rights, health and social development. CEDEP works at UN level through different UN mechanisms such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
We, at CHRR and CEDEP would like to register our deep concern over the continued negligence towards the public hospitals by the government. Certainly, revelations that almost 50 lives are lost to curable ailments a week at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) alone should send chills down the spines of those entrusted with running our health system.
It is our clarion call on government to wake up from its perennially lackadaisical approach to the country’s public hospitals conditions and show Malawians that it still has the welfare of their lives at heart. So far, we dare say, government has failed Malawians on health care big time. Just last week, the country witnessed yet another orgy of protests by the concerned KCH staff who petitioned government to solve the drug and medical supplies crisis currently bedeviling the referral hospital.
Consider this statement: “There are no gloves and simple things such as masks, which can be bought for a price of K200. Nurses in the burns unit put on plastic paper to touch a patient. I mean, is that on?” This is a voice of concern by the leader of Health Workers Association of Malawi, Steven Mjuweni, as quoted by the print media last Wednesday.
We at CHRR and CEDEP further gather that the Radiology Department, for instance, has not been able to do X-rays for more than a month running, forcing fairly-to-do patients to seek treatment in exorbitant private hospitals. As to what happens to those who cannot afford the private hospitals, your guess is as good as ours.
We, at CHRR and CEDEP find it mind-boggling that the outcry by the KCH staff comes straight on the heels of the Capital Hill cash gate scandal currently dragging the country’s image in the mire. We, at CHRR and CEDEP are not unmindful of the fact that the Capital Hill cash gate horror has in one way or the other contributed to the current mess in the health sector. At a time the hospitals lack basic requirements such as gloves, some few greedy civil servants are keeping billions of kwacha which, if put to good use, could have saved a lot of lives of tax payers currently in the graves.
We, at CHRR and CEDEP are fully aware that the stolen billions of kwacha could have gone a long way in augmenting the salaries of the health workers, thereby motivating them. We know for a fact that billions of kwacha now housing the lives of few, who can afford private hospitals, could manage to train thousands of doctors for the country. We are talking of the many ART drugs for HIV and AIDs patients that government could have bought with the billions of kwacha now in the hands the greedy few.
Otherwise, it’s irritating and un-called for that it is still the health system that tops the list of bad news sources despite repeated calls from mainly the health workers themselves, media and civil society on government to do something about the situation in the public hospitals. Persistently inadequate budgetary allocations; brain drain; stunted salaries; drug shortage and myriad of other poor working conditions are now the characteristics of the country’s public health system. It’s pathetic!
We, at CHRR and CEDEP call upon government to find a lasting solution to the crisis crippling the country’s health system. And the surest way of finding the solution is considering increasing budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Health. However, the increased budgetary allocations can only be meaningful if government institute strong measures to curb corruption and theft of public coffers in the civil service. Otherwise, it’s high time government put the health of its citizens first.
Timothy Mtambo Gift Trapence
Acting Executive Director Executive Director
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Centre for Development of People