Community members from Mahowe in the area of traditional authority (T/A) Nthalire in Chitipa district have asked the government to construct a building for Mahowe health centre as the current facility is operating from the house of the late Rodwell Munyenyembe.
Speaking at a budget consultative meeting Justice and Peace (JP) of Karonga Diocese conducted at Mahowe teachers development centre (TDC) in the area, Kayira said the current situation is tricky as the arrangement to use the house was done between family members and Member of Parliament for Chitipa South constituency Welani Chilenga in 2017.
This arrangement, according to Kayira, is dangerous since nobody knows terms and conditions that were agreed apart from the politician and members of the family hence a loss for the MP in the May 21 elections could lead to chaos.
“We are glad that JP has managed to bring us together to a meeting like this one. We have so many challenges that we are facing at Mahowe ranging from ownership of the building for Mahowe health centre to running water, electricity, poor road network from Chitipa boma, shortage of staff and transport.
“These problems are a stumbling block to efforts of promoting health care delivery and safe motherhood to all community members of Mahowe. For example, this borrowed house cannot be electrified, we cannot install running water as owners may need it anytime,” Kayira said.
Kayira further said, as required by every development funded project, the community moulded 26,000 bricks and fetched quarry and sand as their 25 percent contribution for the project and is currently waiting for governments approved plan and funds for the construction works to commence.
In his reaction, Chitipa district hospital administrator Alick Chirombo said much as his office would want to help in the electrification and installation of running water respectively, the offices hands are tied as rightly observed by the ADC chairperson that the building in which the health facility is operating from is a private estate.
Chirombo advised the chairperson to expedite the construction of the community’s own building so as to ease the process of renovations, rehabilitation and installation of power and water if need arises.
As DHO we are well aware of these challenges here only that according to the decentralized government system, all construction of health facilities is for the government through councils. So that is the responsibility of the ADC members to push for development funds from the Ward Councillor and an MP of this area to work on that, Chirombo said.
Commenting on the same, JPs health governance project officer Obert Mkandawire expressed worry over the development, saying the agreement is not clear and it poses a health right infringement in the event the facility ceases to exist should family members decide to take it back.
As health rights campaigners at JP, we feel the arrangement was done due to political pressure on the part of the MP for this area. In the short term plan it was a good idea but if we also look at it from long term perspective then we can easily say that there was an oversight because we are told that it has been operating in that house for almost two years.
That is quite a long time that another facility would have been constructed, electrified and installed with running water. We will help these people to engage their elected leaders so that a new facility is constructed as quickly as possible, Mkandawire said.
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is funding health governance projects in Karonga diocesan districts of Chitipa and Karonga as one way of ensuring high quality of health service delivery and to ensure that the public should also be engaged in all processes to uphold transparency and accountability in the health sector.