Malawi plans to increase the number of boat ambulances to, at least, 20, up from less than four that currently ferry patients in Lakeshore districts to nearby public hospitals.
This, according to Health Minister Moses Chirambo, will help reduce the number of patients who die on the way to medical facilities in a country dogged by transport problems for people who live along Africa’s third largest freshwater lake.
Malawi is one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the world that, out of every 100, 000 births, 894 have to die. Malaria remains another challenge crippling the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member state’s health care delivery system- already devastated by the twin challenges of HIV and AIDS and Tuberculosis.
Chirambo said communities living along Lake Malawi were facing insurmountable transport challenges during emergencies, a development that was increasing the number of preventable deaths.
“We talk of communities living along such Lakeshore districts as Nkhatabay District Hospital and others. There are very few boats ferrying patients to these hospitals. Government will, therefore, increase the number of boats in a bid to help improve service delivery of health services,” said Chirambo.
Chirambo said the initiative will be implemented in the course of two years. During the same time, renovation works will be taking place at Nkhatabay District Hospital, to cost a whopping K15.7 billion.
“We really want to change the face of health services in Malawi. As you can see, boat ambulances and a state-of-the-art hospital will help improve the health status of many people, not only in Nkhatabay and the Northern region but, in Malawi in general. We want to help meet the Millennium Development Goals,” said Chirambo.