Malawi Doctors Call for Volunteers to Support Frontline Health Care Staff

(file photo).
19 January 2021

The Society of Medical Doctors (SMD) has called for volunteer health workers to support the frontline health care staff during this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

The doctors made the call in a statement barely a day after President Lazarus Chakwera admitted that the country's health system had been "overwhelmed" by the surge.

"The situation is quite desperate," he said, laying out plans to recruit about 1380 personnel and open field hospitals in an effort to manage the virus pandemic.

Chakwera said in the televised speech monitored on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday that the health system is no fit-for-purpose partly blamed on decades of neglect and plunder.

The Society of Medical Doctors president Victor Mithi said they need volunteers, particularly clinicians, nurses and laboratory personnel that are either not employed or have free time, to work at the equivalent grade allowances in Covi-19 centres in central hospital isolation wards and new field hospitals to be set up by government.

"Those willing to help should be fully registered with their regulatory bodies, they should be without a comer bity that could increase their risk of developing severe Covid -19 and if they are employed, they should have a written permission letter for this initiative from their employers," reads a statement for the doctors.

Mithi said the virus pandemic has exposed Malawi's health system and the need to invest in it.

President Chakwera on Sunday said government will increase admission space from the current 400 national treatment units to 1500 over the next month, including the setting up of a 300-bed capacity field hospital at Blantyre Youth Centre, another 300-bed capacity field hospital at Bingu National Stadium, a 200-bed capacity emergency treatment unit in Mzuzu, and a 100-bed capacity field hospital at the Zomba State House.

Chakwera said priority for the government is immediate procurements of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all frontline health workers, 1000 cylinders of oxygen along with accessories such as flow meters and patient monitors, which "must be in the country by the end of the week, even by chartered plane if need be".

He said maintenance of oxygen plants in Nkhata Bay and at Kamuzu Central Hospital is already underway.

The President also ordered the setting up of 1000 beds, including 50 to 100 specialised intensive care unit beds, the purchase of non-invasive ventilators to assist those having difficulty breathing on their own and 50 000 test kits to meet the projected demand for the next four months.

In the wake of two Malawian cabinet officials dying of coronavirus last week, President Chakwera declared a State of National Disaster to combat the spread of the virus as cases have increased since the new year.

More From: Nyasa Times

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