Patients at the emergency section of the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, were helpless on Sunday during the ongoing strike by some medical personnel.

About five of them have died reportedly due to lack of attention from the staff, who are refusing to work extra hours.

During a visit to the hospital, some accident victims were seen stranded and lying on the floor, with no doctors, nurses or clinical officers attending to them.

The Nation crew saw one minibus carrying a Mary Andrew, who was hit by a lorry at Area 23 and in great pain, arriving at the hospital where she found no help.

Said Mary’s brother, Sifa Andrew: “I am really stranded and confused. I don’t know what to do with my sister. She has just been hit by a lorry some five minutes ago and she is bleeding. We are being told that they are not helping anybody here because there are no nurses.”

Five patients die

Some hospital staff who were working in other departments said about five people who had emergency complications had died by Sunday afternoon because there was nobody to attend to them.

Said a nurse: “There was also a certain man who came with abdominal complications and his case was an emergency one. He has died because there was no one to attend to him. About five people have died in the same way.”

She said the KCH emergency section normally has about five medical workers at a time when everything is normal.

KCH director Dr. Noordeen Alide could not be reached for comment on Sunday, but last week he said the hospital referred the staff’s demands to the Ministry of Health.

The staff are demanding an increase in their ‘locum’ allowance from K1 200 (about $4.8) to about K8 000 (about $32) per day.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali said the medical workers’ demands are justifiable, but that the revised allowance is awaiting ministerial approval.

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