Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) early this month moved a hospital bed and mattress to the house of late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s daughter, Tapiwa, at Area 12 in Lilongwe.
This was after she reportedly refused to have her child with a broken leg admitted to the medical facility, citing privacy.
The hospital assigned the case to a medical doctor who, since three weeks ago, was travelling to Area 12 to treat the six-year-old child.
In an interview on Friday, a KCH medical doctor Leonard Banza, who administered treatment on the child, said they allowed the late president’s daughter to collect the bed and mattress from the hospital because she demanded privacy.
Said the doctor: “We did it because the patient said they needed some privacy. The girl had a tumour fracture which can be treated anywhere. We did it to respect the patient’s rights.
“It was not a serious case where the patient needed to be monitored all the time.”
Banza said they moved the hospital facilities to Tapiwa’s house because they could not use any other bed to treat the child.
“We needed to do retraction which requires a special bed to hang the weight of the patient while doing the retraction. It was a small bed. The bed was returned last week,” said Banza.
Asked whether the public hospital could allow any other patient to be treated at their home, the doctor said: “Some patients request to be treated at home, but it is not like each and every patient requests that arrangement.”
Medical Council of Malawi (MCM) registrar Abel Kaonga said Tapiwa’s demands could be justified as the Mutharika family has been traumatised by the recent death of their father.
“That family has been traumatised. In my personal capacity, I can understand them because of the tragedy they have just gone through,” said Kaonga.
But some doctors at KCH said they are not allowed to succumb to patients’ demands to treat them in their respective homes at the expense of other patients who flock to the hospital for help.
Said another doctor on condition of anonymity: “If every patient demands that they be treated in their houses because of privacy, then why was the hospital constructed? We have complained to management that the hospital does not have enough beds and why should some patients have the luxury to get the same few facilities to their homes?”
KCH hospital director Noordeen Alide was said to be out of office last week and could also not be reached on his mobile phone as it was off. Efforts to talk to Tapiwa also proved futile.
KCH is among major referral hospitals in Malawi where the acute shortage of medical personnel is affecting delivery of health services, leading to a situation where the hospital engages some staff to work extra hours under an incentive scheme called locum.