Bingu wa Mutharika's doctor faces disciplinary action
Personal doctor for former president late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika faces disciplinary action for removing his former boss’s hospital file from Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) and handing it over to the family of the fallen leader.
Medical Council of Malawi (MCM) has since said it will set up a committee to probe Dr. Dan Namarika’s “unprofessional” conduct which it said is contrary to medical practice.
“As a doctor, he is not supposed to divulge confidential information to the public. That information [file] is supposed to be under lock and key and we are not talking about an ordinary person here, but president of the country.
“Right now, I know there is a commission of inquiry over that matter. We are letting the commission to do its work. After that, we are going to do our professional probe into the matter,” said MCM registrar Abel Kawonga on Tuesday.
Kawonga added: “For sure, he will be reprimanded. He acted unprofessionally by giving the file to the family. Moving confidential information from the hospital and handing it to the family without the approval of the hospital management is serious. We do not want to set that precedent.”
Kawonga confirmed that Namarika wrote KCH informing them that he had handed the file to the Mutharika family.
KCH director Dr. Noordeen Alide also confirmed receiving Namarika’s letter on the same.
“When he wrote them [KCH] and when they were responding to him, they copied to me. Right now, I have written him asking him to get the file back from the family. He has not yet come back to me on that,” added Kawonga.
He said when a patient is treated at a private or public hospital, his or her file becomes the property of that hospital.
“And for the personal doctor to do that [taking the file to the family], he acted unprofessionally,” he said.
The registrar said he summoned Namarika after Weekend Nation reported that the personal doctor was hiding the file. Kawonga said Namarika was emotional during the audience, but realised that he was in the wrong.
“I actually summoned him. We had a long chat. He was emotional, but sounded worried. He thought that I was going to deregister him from practising as a doctor. I am the registering authority for all medical practitioners in the country. He said he behaved the way he did because he was in panic,” said Kawonga.
‘It is not a political issue’
In an interview on Thursday, Dr. Namarika argued that if MCM had issues with him, they should communicate to him. He said MCM is behaving as if he were not available and, yet, they can easily get his contacts.
“In fact, I am getting it from the media. Those people should have my contacts. I work at Kamuzu Central Hospital. They should not work as if they are hiding something. If Medical Council of Malawi has an issue with me, they should come to me. I do not like to be enemies. My argument is that I do not need to hear it from media people,” said Namarika.
He added: “I am affiliated to the Medical Council. They have to come to me. Nkhani si yandale [this is not a political issue]. It is about a patient who died under certain circumstances. I am not running away. Let us handle this in a proper way as mature people. I do not like to work under suspicion.”
When Mutharika died on April 5, Namarika referred him to KCH, but without informing hospital management and later took away the file from the hospital. Among others, the file contains Mutharika’s details during admission and departure from the hospital.
President Joyce Banda has instituted a commission of inquiry into the illness and death of Mutharika.
But Mutharika’s family is against the commission. The President has since justified the commission, saying Mutharika’s death until now has some questions which need answers.
The commission comprises retired Supreme Court Judge Elton Singini, pathologist Dr. Charles Dzamala, former inspector general of police Joseph Aironi, Dr. Tiwonge Loga, Dr. Elizabeth Sibale, lawyer Jabbar Alibe, Fr. Joseph Mpinganjira, Brian Nyasulu and former Air Malawi general manager Esther Chioko.
Mutharika’s brother, Peter, told Voice of America that the commission of inquiry is “nonsensical”. He said the family is satisfied with the medical report that the president died of cardiac arrest.
Mutharika said if government really wants to know how the former president died, it should speak to the attending physician at State House and the hospital.
Said Peter Mutharika: “Let them find out from the doctor what happened to the president and what happened when he was taken to the hospital. The attending physician can give them all that information.”