Representatives of maternal health program being implemented in Malawi’s four districts have disclosed to have so far spent over MK2 billion.
This follows provision of cash bonuses to expectant women, health workers, infrastructure development as well as procurement of medical supplies to participating health facilities.
The revelation comes as the Malawi government under Ministry of Health is implementing a maternal health program with financial support from the governments of Norway and.
Speaking to Capital FM, the Deputy Program Director revealed that so far over 100, 000 expectant women have benefited in the conditional cash transfer with over MK600 million disbursed to them.
Reagan Kaluluma further adds that money totaling to MK849 Million has been spent on infrastructure expenses in all the four districts.
He however disclosed the program still faces constraints pointing out staff attrition which is high, delay in infrastructure and procurement of medical equipment among others.
“Some communities do not understand the target criteria hence create the myth that the money is associated with spiritualism,” added Kaluluma
The project dubbed Results Based Financing for Maternal and Neonatal Health (RBF4MNH) is being implemented in 33 health facilities in Ntcheu, Dedza, Mchinji and Balaka.
It is aimed at contributing to the reduction of maternal and neonatal deaths in the impact districts.
This is so through provision of incentives inform of cash bonus to staff as well conditional cash transfer to expectant women in a bid to increase hospital deliveries.
Apart from that, the program also procures medical equipment besides infrastructure development to benefiting health facilities in a bid to improve quality health care.
Junior workers at Karonga District Hospital have put down their tools in protest against poor working conditions.
Some of the issues raised by workers include lack of work suits, shortage of trollies (only two are available) in the wards, wheel chairs, lack of maintenance in the major operating theatre.
Apart from that they have also cited poor customer care in The Out Patient Department including the disappearance of an engine for the ambulance.
Speaking on behalf of the 144 striking workers who signed the petition to the District Health Officer, district commissioner and others, Pautwa Mwaleba the kitchen attendant said they will neither resume the work nor open the gates until their grievances are resolved
“It’s now been almost two years since we stated voicing our concerns but no one seems to care.
Now we have just decided to take this action and we will not resume work until our problems are addressed,” Mwaleba emphasised.
They are also are demanding the transfer of Maloni Nyirenda the District Nursing Officer (DNO), Alex Chilombo the Hospital Administrator, Mavuto Miji Kawonga Human Resource Manager, Stuart Chilambo Procurement Officer and McDonald Kamwela the Maintenance Officer.
When asked to comment on the matter, District Health Officer, Phinious Mfune refused and asked for more time as he wanted to consult his colleagues first.
This development comes barely three days after the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) under the Karonga diocese of the church was authorised by the health committees at Karonga and Chitipa district council to start advocating for mutual relationship and access to information in health facilities.
Health authorities in Malawi’s central region district of Ntcheu have revealed that they have surpassed the initial target of children earmarked for the Integrated Measles Rubella Campaign.
Authorities in Ntcheu attribute the development due to massive mass awareness campaigns conducted across the district before and during the exercise.
The week long campaign that the Ministry of Health conducted in June across the country aimed at eradicating cases of rubella wich are more prevalent when compared to those of measles.
However, apart from the measles and rubella vaccine, the ministry also introduced Vitamin A supplementation and de-worming during the exercise.
Speaking to Capital FM, Ntcheu District Environmental Health Officer disclosed that health authorities targeted 277,801 children between 9 months and 14 years of age.
Bosco Kaluwa stressed that after the campaign conducted in June this year, authorities covered 296, 464 children surpassing the targeted number.
“On Vitamin A supplementation the target was 96, 642 but we managed to reach out to 112, 095 children.
And on De-worming out of 81,367 targeted number, the district reached out to 114, 605 children,” explained Kaluwa.
The measles rubella vaccine targeted 7 million children within the age range of 9 months to 14 years across the country during the campaign.
Over 2 million children from 6 to 59 months were targeted to receive the Vitamin A supplementation while over 1 million children from 12-59 months were targeted for De-worming.
Also known as German measles, Rubella is an infection that causes a red rash on the body, and usually causes fever and swollen lymph nodes.
The disease is often mild with half of people not realising they are sick.
Medical personnel in various public hospitals in Malawi are sounding an alarm, following pronouncements by ESCOM that they should find alternative energy sources, since power outages will continue.
The power supplier goes on to add that the situation will only improve when the country receives normal to above normal rainfall for a period of five consecutive years.
Malawians have in recent weeks been expressing surprise following the sudden return of power blackouts, which is contrary to what ESCOM officials promised.
A letter seen by Capital FM authored by ESCOM Chief Executive Officer Evelyn Mwapasa, advises the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), and various hospitals of a round table meeting set for next week.
It is anticipated that the power supplier will, during the meeting, give a detailed update on the power supply situation in the country.
According to Mwapasa, the Blantyre meeting will enable both the private and health sectors plan accordingly.
Similar meetings will be held in the Central and Northern regions.
Power availability takes on an extra meaning in the healthcare field, as an interruption or loss of electric power at a hospital can result in tragedy as electricity power machines help keep people alive.
These include; life support machines, incubators for premature babies, ventilation machines helping people breathe, gas supplies for putting people to sleep during operations, and last but not least, blood pressure monitors. All these are needed to keep people alive and help save lives in hospital.
Heads of various public hospitals have time and again complained over the little funding they receive, which is inadequate to meet their needs when the frequent or unexpected power interruptions occur.
Ellings Nyirenda, who is the district Health Officer for Mzimba said they struggle to keep the hospital running due to power outages and with the recent announcement by the power supplier they are afraid of what’s to come.
It is sad that some Malawians have ended up dying while in the theatre, due to a loss in electricity supply.
What is coming out clearly from these public hospital managers is that their institutions are already struggling to survive, hence the need for ESCOM to do all it can to ensure steady availability of adequate power supply.
Otherwise, purchasing fuel for Gen sets or turning to solar energy at the last minute might prove suicidal.
Medical Research studies conducted at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) has shown that 15 percent of the clients who visit the facility have hepatitis.
Zone Health Supervisor for the Ministry of Health in the South East Zone, Dr Malangizo Mbewe, disclosed this on Saturday during the World Hepatitis Day commemoration in Chikwawa district whose theme was 'eliminating hepatitis'.
Mbewe said this is the case because a lot of people are not aware of the problem and it is difficult for them to accept it as one of the health challenges rocking the country.
"We need to enhance awareness campaigns so that people are aware of this. As a country, we are very happy to commemorate the day here in Chikwawa because with the information disseminated, we can prevent and treat it," said Mbewe.
He said he was particularly happy to note that the Ministry of Health (MoH) through the department of HIV/AIDS has formed a taskforce to mobilize resources to facilitate the process of conducting a national survey on hepatitis.
He said the survey would provide a clear picture of the situation on the ground.
Hepatitis is a disease characterised by the inflammation of the liver.
There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These 5 types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread.