Community leaders from the four health centres in Karonga Central Constituency on Thursday had a rare opportunity to chest out challenges that are impeding health service delivery in their respective health facilities to the Parliamentary candidates contesting in the November 10 by-election.
Speaking on behalf of the four health facilities of Katili, Mlare, Lupembe and Mwenilondo, James Ngwira of Mwenilondo Health Centre Management Committee (HCMC) said the engagement meeting will help them to keep records that shadow candidates promised once elected.
“We have presented our problems to them that range from shortage of staff, lack of running water and electricity almost in all the four health centres, shortage of staff houses, ambulances and phone network problem at Katili health centre. The recorded promises will be used as reference material in future and hold them accountable should they fail to walk the talk,’ Ngwira said.
During the engagement meeting, UTM Party candidate Frank Mwenifumbo said he will continue from where stopped in 2018 in making sure that the health sector is given resources to save lives of the people who he said are key in development.
He said: “I will use District Development Fund (DDF) and Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to implement various projects in the four health facilities to make sure that all the required materials such as beds, maternity wings, staff houses, water and electricity are available to lobby health workers.
On her part, the independent candidate Florence Shackie Nthakomwa said being a mother, she knows how painful it is for women to walk long distances from health centres to the district hospital to deliver.
She said apart from using development funds, she will lobby from various partners to complement governments efforts of providing accessible universal health service to everyone.
“I will make sure that all health facilities are equipped to achieve the universal health coverage because every citizen has the right to health,” she said.
CHRR project coordinator Modester Ramundi said her organisation took the opportunity of the impending by-election in the area to bring together community leaders and the aspiring candidates so that candidates should commit themselves what they will do with the prevailing challenges in the four health facilities in the area.
Said Ramundi: “With funding from Oxfam, we are implementing a health governance project in this Constituency and we deemed it necessary to bring the community with challenges rocking these health facilities to the candidates. We are happy that we have achieved that and we appeal to the candidates that whosoever wins should be able to fulfil the promises because it is these peoples constitutional right to health”.
The DPP shadow candidate retired Brigadier Smith Ngwira sent an apology while the MCP candidate Leonard Mwalwanda excused himself, saying it was at short notice as he had already allocated that time to some equally crucial meetings.