Health workers at Phalombe District Health Centre on Friday downed tools which left hundreds of patients stranded and others went home without receiving medical attention.
A visit by Malawi24 Online Newspaper at the facility around 10:00 o’clock in the morning, found the workers at the hospital chatting while others were just moving around Phalombe Market.
Some of the student nurses from Holy Family Nursing College who are doing their study practices at the facility, were also seen moving and sitting without having anything to do. Some of them were busy playing with their mobile phones while patients were at a waiting area.
One of the patients, Maria Matepwe, who said she comes from Mwanga area, which is 38 kilometres away, said she reached at the facility at around 5AM hoping to get the assistance earlier but that did not happen.
“I’ve come here in the dawn around 5 but as of this hour I’ve not been helped as they are yet to open. I don’t know what is happening, I’m in great pains and now I’ve made a decision to return and seek help from some traditional healers at home,” she said.
Some of the workers confided with this publication that they thought of staging the strike so as to force the management to deal with some problems which are at the facility such as increment of bed bugs (mtsikidzi) in the maternity ward and other places.
They further said some of the rooms at the facility have got no electricity for some time now and that the management has done nothing despite the matter being reported to the authorities.
Speaking in an interview, District Health Officer (DHO), Ketwin Kondowe, denied that it was a strike as others are putting it and he claimed that it was just mere delay.
“There was a just delay in morning for them to start working because of other issues which they were being discussed,” claimed the DHO.
When asked to reveal the issues which caused to what he claimed a delay, Kondowe confirmed that one of them was the issue of excessive bed bugs.
“Go now and see yourselves, you’ll find them working, the issues were of bed bugs and that some guardians are sleeping in the maternity room. There was also an issue of the broken solar which is at the facility,” he added.