Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Machinga CRCs advocate for better health services

By Elias Banda
Community radio clubs (CRCs) in Machinga have taken government to task over prolonged shortage of drugs and poor services at the public health facilities in the district.
Club members at Mbosongwe and Mangamba CRCs disclosed during Nzatonse radio program recording that patients were frequently turned away at Nanyumbu, Ntaja and Mangamba health centers because the health facilities had no drugs. People were advised to buy medicines from private pharmacies and many of them could not afford the exorbitant prices there. But a spot check in some of the drug stores at Ntaja trading area revealed that the drugs were poorly stored and the possibility was higher that people were sold expired drugs. And apparently, there is no machinery in place to monitor drugs sold by unlicensed traders in order to establish whether they are fit for use or not.
Thoko Humphrey, a member of Mbosongwe CRC said the supply of drugs at the health centers could last only for a few days prompting public speculation that drugs were being sold by health workers. Another member, Haji Mandowa concurred with Thoko and said he once contacted men who were selling drugs with the Malawi Government inscription on them. He said though the matter was reported to security officials in the area, none has since been arrested.
It was also disclosed that the drugs that many patients received could not correspond with the reported illnesses, triggering fears of more health complications.  Francis Phiri who sought treatment for a sore on his leg was surprised to be given drugs for malaria treatment. He wondered whether there was a direct connection between malaria and the wound he complained about.
The situation at the health centers contradicted what the Health Minister, Jean Kalilani said on August 1 that drugs were available in all health facilities in the country. During the Nzatonse Program on August 9, many callers across the country said many hospitals and health centers were short of drug supply. Nzatonse Program is being aired every Sunday on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC Radio One) sponsored by ADRA Malawi on diverse issues affecting people in Malawi.