Malawi’s health crisis: 915 health care workers test positive to COVID-19

doctors in a hospital ward
  • 156 health personnel infected in the past week alone

COVID-19 threatens the gains made in Malawi’s health system as more frontline workers are getting infected in the line of duty due to an overwhelming number of patients seeking treatment and support in the country’s health facilities.

According to the President of the Society of Medical Doctors in Malawi Dr. Victor Mithi, as of last week, cumulatively 915 healthcare workers tested positive to COVID-19, a development he described as a disaster.

With the current doctor-patient ratio standing at one practitioner treating 33 000 patients, disastrous could be an understatement.

As of 23rd January this year, Malawi has registered 1,074 new COVID-cases, 25 new deaths and 258 patients admitted in different isolation centres.

Mithi stated that Malawi’s hospitals are collapsing due to an overwhelming numbers of patients seeking COVID-19 care on a daily basis; a development that is exerting pressure on an already fragile health system with little resources to provide adequate care.

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The oxygen plant at the Kamuzu Central hospital in Lilongwe. Picture by UNICEF

 “More than 150 people have been hospitalized and the number is increasing daily. This is then exerting pressure on the very limited resources available to treat these patients. But of all, what is very concerning is that health care workers are also being infected at an overwhelming rate; hence others are being withdrawn from the front line.

“So far as of last week, cumulatively we had 915 health care workers that tested positive for COVID-19 of which 156 of them were infected in the past week and these numbers continue to increase at an alarming rate” the medical doctor disclosed.

He observed that coupled with the huge gap in the doctor to patient rate, the country cannot afford to get more health personnel infected if it is to win the fight against the pandemic.

Mithi who made the remarks during the handover ceremony of a K3 million cheque donation from MyBucks banking corporation to the society applauded the bank for the gesture.

This follows President Lazarus Chakwera’s declaration of state of national disaster owing to an upsurge in numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

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Kasakala (L) captured with Dr. Mithi (R) during the cheque handover ceremony in Lilongwe. Picture courtesy of MyBucks

The donation is part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility and according to an official Lucius Kasakala the financial institution felt obliged to contribute to the cause and be actively involved in the fight against the virus which has redefined business and societal norms.

MyBucks has pledged to procure personal protective equipment worth K1 million per month for the next three months to the doctor’s grouping which will in turn be coordinating and directing the resources to be donated to hospitals and health centres in dire need of the supplies.

Kasakala called on the need for collective efforts in fighting the pandemic.

From our discussion with the Society, we were enlightened that there are a number of areas that need immediate intervention in the fight against Covid and among them we at Mybucks have decided to play our part in addressing the shortage of PPE’s amongst our health workers

“The increased number of Covid-19 cases is not only affecting us the citizenry, we have been well informed that our health workers who are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic are also being infected by this virus at a very alarming rate” he lamented.