The country’s main referral hospital, Queen Elizabeth, is being crippled by a lack of basic resources – working equipment and drugs, but also lack of professional personnel due to the current economic crisis in the country.
The situation has left those working at the hospital, especially nurses and doctors, with difficulties in performing their duties – as they cannot work without the necessary equipment. It has also lead some patients who visit the hospital not to get proper treatment, while others have switched to private hospitals which tend to be more expensive.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, the chief nursing officer, Mrs. Chigwenembe, said the shortage of health personnel has forced the hospital to compromise in terms of wards allocation in order to have all the patients attended to. She said the few nurses and doctors that are available have a work overload and it is really a difficult task for them.
Meanwhile, Chigwenembe called on the Ministry of Health, together with the nursing training colleges, to increase the number of graduating nurses in order to beef up the number of nurses at the hospital. She further pleaded with government to increase financial allocation of locum allowances to nurses to motivate them to work beyond their shifts.
However, as the Ministry of Health is among several ministries feeling the pinch of government austerity measures, it remains questionable whether the Malawi government will make any meaningful intervention on the matter. According to media reports, with a deduction of over five billion Malawian kwacha, the Ministry of Health has suffered more than its ministry counterparts.