Mchinji — Health workers at Kochilira health center in Mchinji district have expressed concern over the poor conditions at the facility which are affecting their work.
The workers voiced their concern on January 1 when Member of Parliament (MP) for Mchinji West Constituency Jephther Mwale made a tour to the facility and donated assorted items to patients worth 100 thousand kwacha.
In-Charge at Kochilira health center Ephraim Mankhwala said the centre does not have a generator to be used as a backup in times of electricity black outs especially during deliveries done during odd hours.
"We are really facing big challenges here, we do not have a generator as a backup during delivery in odd hours when there is blackout," he told the visiting MP.
The in-charge, who is a clinician, disclosed that the health facility had not been providing food to patients for more than a year after the kitchen they were using became dysfunctional forcing patients to search for food on their own.
Other problems at the centre were absence of patients' beddings and clean and safe water. It was reported that expectant mothers and guardians walked close to 1.5 kilometers searching for water in the surrounding villages.
One of the guardians at the facility who chose to speak on condition of anonymity said water becomes a serious challenge especially during rainy season.
She lamented that for fear of getting wet with rains while searching for water, they were forced to draw and use nearby unclean water.
"I am concerned with the type of life here. We are at risk of getting water born diseases," she said.
MANA found out that besides the mentioned challenges, Kochilira has no bathrooms and toilets, a development which was forcing patients and guardians to bath at night and helping themselves in the nearby bush.
To address the challenge, Mankhwala said they tried their best lobbying for support from some non-governmental organizations and former MPs in the area who have been promising to help but nothing had materialized.
Commenting on the matter, MP for Mchinji West Constituency Jephther Mwale said Kochilira health center is one of the most important and oldest health centers in the district but has been neglected for so long.
"It is very true, Kochilira health center is one of the most important and oldest health centers in Mchinji especially in my constituency but it has been for a long time been neglected," he said.
"Having moved around, I have noted a lot of challenges that the health personnel are experiencing but if we put our hands together, we are going to do something so that slowly we should reclaim the glory of Kochilira health center," he told Mana.
Kochilira health center was established in 1956 as a Leprosy center in Malawi but in 1978 was turned into a rural facility which served about 45 thousand families in the community where within the figure; about 10 thousand people are women who are of bearing age.