Malawi health workers are starting to get worried as they claim that the government is not taking the acute shortage of equipment and drugs seriously. According to them, this is crippling the healthcare standard in the country’s hospitals - so much so that patients are asked to bring in their own syringes.
The labor ward in the Bwaila Maternity Hospital also faces temporary closures as the ward doesn't have the supplies and equipment to work with. The cherry on top is the regular power cuts that the hospitals will now have to bear.
Causes Of The Shortage
The government says that the shortage is created due to the disruption caused by the pandemic and a lack of foreign currency in the country. Due to these reasons, the drug budget has been reduced to half since 2019, but the health ministry officials admitted that in the current situation, it would be difficult to arrange even the essential drugs.
A health worker in Lilongwe’s Kamuzu Central Hospital says that the government is downplaying, which is a big issue. He added that gloves, giving sets, syringes, cotton, and other essential supplies are provided in limited quantities, due to which patients are told to buy syringes when they come to the health centers. Patients come to their health centers because they don't have certain essential supplies.
At Mulanje’s Health Centre, 230 miles from the capital, women who wanted to have family planning implants were arriving, but they were also being sent to buy syringes. The Guardian reported that almost half of Malawi’s hospitals in different districts have shut down their theatres due to a lack of anesthetics.
The National Organisation of Nurses and the Association of Malawian Midwives accused the government of ignoring a problem that is worsening with every passing day. Unions released a statement saying that their midwives and nurses are facing tough situations in the hospitals.
At the same time, it's illogical that the government claims that the situation of the health facilities is normal. The union's statement also demanded the government to sort measures to ensure that no life is lost due to the prolonged blackouts or the shortage of essential supplies.
Midwives, nurses, and other healthcare providers are not able to resuscitate patients who require oxygen therapy or conduct intravenous infusions that stabilize sick patients. There is poor lighting, due to which professionals are forced to conduct deliveries in the labor wards along with episiotomies, removing umbilical cords around babies' necks, performing vacuum extractions, and manually removing the placenta.
The president of the Anaesthesia Association of Malawai, Joel Moyo, states that hospitals are not getting drugs or receiving expired medicines. He said that we are forced to use local cannulas in place of spinal needles on pregnant women, which is not recommended. They don't have some drugs and essential supplies like syringes that are needed to perform general surgeries.