Govt denies suspending ambulances from delivering dead bodies


The Malawi Government through the Ministry of Health has disowned a document which outlines austerity measures in district health facilities, including the banning of ambulances from collecting and delivering dead bodies.

On Sunday July 17, Malawians were shocked with a letter from the ministry of health addressed to all District Health Management Leaderships, dated July 12, 2022, stipulating some austerity measures in the health sector.

The document which is in our custody indicates that the decision to suspend some services in all public health facilities came in to pose as a possible measure to cushion against price increase in some essential supplies amid rising in price of commodities including fuel.

Some of the measures outlined in the document included an order for district hospitals to have only one ambulance operating and three ambulances for health centers and that all other ambulances and vehicles should be parked.

The document further banned picking and dropping of health workers on night shift to and from the hospital and instead they have been ordered to be sleeping within the facility and further more patients will be eating once in a day.

“Collection and delivery of dead bodies. In adherence to infection prevention measure, ambulances are not allowed to carry dead bodies. All ambulances should operate from the District Health Offices.

“Patient food. Hospitals should minimize food ration to 1 meal a day. Meals for staff on duty. Districts should suspend provision of meals to staff on duty,” reads another part of the document.

However, in a press statement released on Monday July 18, Secretary for Health, Dr Charles Mwansambo has vehemently refuted the outlined austerity measures and has since described the document as fake.

“It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Health that there is a document circulating on social media, allegedly outlining austerity measures to be implemented in District health facilities in the country.

“The Ministry would like to inform the General Public that the Ministry has neither authored nor released such a document. The Ministry therefore appeals to all stakeholders to desist from making reference to the said document,” says Mwansambo in the statement.

He admitted that the Ministry of Health is aware of the challenges that are prevailing in public health facilities and but he said the ministry already implemented appropriate measures and not those in the said fake document.

Although the ministry has disowned the fake document, Malawi24 can reliably report that some of the austerity measures listed in the said fake document, were already implemented in some district hospitals, for instance the issue of patients receiving one meal in a day.

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