Press Statement
Lilongwe, 20 April, 2020
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has learnt with shock media reports confirming the complete closure of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) which is the main referral health facility in the country that mostly cater for the Southern Region for three days now.
CDEDI understands that the development has arisen following disagreements between the health workers at the facility and their employer government through the line the Ministry of Health.
It is even more disheartening to see pictures of empty wards and beds at the hospital as patients have either been sent back to district hospitals, to their homes to die due to cases that could have been treated or else going to private hospital than do not even have the equipment let alone the expertise that can match a referral health facility for those that can afford. This in all fairness means Malawians are paying with their own lives as the as the price for the protracted battle between government and the health workers.
On the other hand, this is coming amid the Covid-19 threat which has shaken the world and has paralyzed even the best of the best health systems on the globe.
CDEDI is convinced that the health personnel at QUEENS and indeed the rest of their colleagues across the country have genuine reasons for their industrial actions, that as humans there is urgent attention in order to protect them at the same time enable them discharge their duties effectively. This also comes against a background that the health personnel is the front liner soldiers in the government’s response to corona virus pandemic.
It is our considered view that the closure of the hospital is a threat to survival of many lives in the region at the same time raises serious questions to governments’ commitment in the whole Covid 19 response.
CDEDI therefore, appeal to President Arthur Peter Mutharika to immediately intervene by personally meeting the concerned health workers at Queens.
In order to avert the possible resurgence of the strikes across the country, Mutharika should also personally call for a roundtable emergency meeting leadership of all health personnel in the country key among them; Medical Council of Malawi, Nurses and Midwifes of Malawi (AMAMI) Nurses Union of Malawi (NUM) and Association of Medical Doctors to appreciate their plight and at the same time to motivate them in the face of the pandemic.
CDEDI is challenging Mutharika to relive his Health Minister Jappie Muhango off his duties for allowing the health facility to literally close shop under his watch. This is unprecedented, unwarranted and total disregard for a right to health of millions of people that depends on Queens as a referral facility.
CDEDI would also like to register its concern on media reports that some of the COVID 19, especially those in rural areas have been completely abandoned without any form of support from authorities a development that has subjected them to stigma and discrimination.
Lastly, but not the least CDEDI would like to maintain its earlier appeal to President Mutharika to call for a high level Covid 19 committee comprising opposition political party leaders, captains of the business industry, civil society, religious, and traditional leaders including the academia that will be providing strategic and hope grown approaches to contain furthers spread of the virus as opposed to the copy and paste approach that imagine of the rights of the same people that ought to be protected.
CDEDI is a non partisan, nongovernmental organization that was established with a goal to have a well-informed and organized citizenry that can ably demand their social and economic rights at the same time hold duty bearers accountable for their actions.
Among many others CDEDI aims at sensitizing the masses on matters of national importance, inculcate the spirit of a peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic, political and religious affiliations; provide civic education on people’s rights and responsibilities in economic independence and contribution towards national development and lobbying for the electoral law reforms.