MALAWI’S crumbling health system claimed four more
victims on Christmas day when a power failure at a major hospital caused the
deaths of four children.
According to Nyasa
Times, the hour-long power failure at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe resulted
in four children using oxygen ventilators dying. The ventilators need
electricity to work.
MP Alex Major was at the hospital when the tragedy occurred.
He is quoted in the report as saying: “The generator wasn’t used. We heard
there was a fault but it took time before power returned.”
Other sources at the hospital claimed the generator had
run out of diesel.
The deaths left nurses sobbing uncontrollably and in
shock, said the report.
The country’s health service is in a crisis, with poorly
paid nurses working in increasingly bad working environments. The lack of
sufficient electricity in the country has also hit the health system hard, with
deaths because of blackouts reported at a number of hospitals.
Dorothy Ngoma from the National Organisation of Nurses
and Midwives is quoted in the report as saying: “There are people’s lives
concerned here. We are witnessing the worst incidence of a crumbling health
service delivery system in recent times.
Speaking on Times Radio, Ngoma said: “We have cases of
premature babies dying in hospitals due to the absence of power for the
incubators and whenever authorities are told about these things, they just ask
for the names of those children who are dying. I say this is unacceptable.
“Some nurses and midwives are reported to be using the
flashlights of their mobile phones in the course of their duties. Imagine a
nurse having to do this whilst helping a woman deliver her child.”