Woman dies due to blackout at hospital in Lilongwe


A woman died after giving birth yesterday at Mitundu Community Hospital in Lilongwe as she could not be given proper medical care due to power outage.

The incident at Mitundu Community Hospital happened days after an unborn child also died when health workers failed to carry out Cesarean Section on a pregnant woman because of power outage at the same hospital.

Blackouts in Malawi currently last at least eight a day and hospitals are being forced to use backup generators. Yesterday,  Mitundu Community Hospital had no fuel for its generators.

The Nation Newspaper reported that Tereza Ziyasi, 32, was admitted to Mitundu Community Hospital and yesterday she gave birth to a girl weighing four kilogrammes.

After giving birth, Ziyasi, a mother of five including the newborn, bled excessively and she needed blood transfusion.

One official told The Nation: “The challenge is that power had gone out so the theatre where she could be examined properly was non-functional, she desperately needed a blood transfusion in the course of losing blood which circulates oxygen.

“In addition to that, we don’t have working concentrators which power mobile oxygen machines which you can use in the absence of electricity.”

This was confirmed to The Nation by Mitundu Rural Hospital deputy in-charge Aubrey Nsunza who said there was no electricity and there was no fuel in the back-up generator.

Health workers told The Nation that the woman’s situation would have been  handled properly if power was available at the hospital.

On Twitter, Dan Kawaye, a midwife who uses the handle @MalawiMidwives said a similar case also happened at the same hospital a few days ago.

“Just few days ago, we received a referral at KCH from the same facility. They failed to do a Cesarian Section coz of power outage. The unborn baby had already died while in transit. At least the mother was saved (fortunately) but the uterus was removed coz it was ruptured,” he tweeted.

Speaking to The Nation, Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said the ministry investigates any case of a woman dying due to maternal complications.

He, however, said the ministry is not responsible for providing fuel to hospitals as this is in the hands of councils.

National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi president Dorothy Ngoma has since described the incident as shocking and has advised people in charge of hospitals to be demanding resources such as fuel from those with power.

She also noted that it may be possible that the hospital had been demanding the assistance but it was not provided by relevant authorities.

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