Ministry of health condemned for Dowa beds saga, timing is wrong and suspicious
Human rights activists and the Health Committee of Parliament have condemned the Ministry of Health for removing beds from Mponela rural hospital and relocating them to health centres in Mzimba.
The beds were allegedly relocated to Euthini and Edingeni health centres where there is currently parliamentary by-election campaign.
"The timing itself is a concern, where items were moved from one area [Mponela in Dowa] allegedly to Edingeni and Euthini, where there are by-elections and the vice president, who is also minister of health, is actively involved campaigning for his party, the PP. Such timing may spark people to believe PP government is using the said beds for campaign," Human Rights Consultative Committee's chair Undule Mwakasungula said in an interview yesterday.
"Other than 'grabbing beds' from the health facility it would have cut other unnecessary expenditures such as reduce recent delegation to the UN and allocate the resources to such important things as hospital beds," he said.
Chair for Health Committee of Parliament Paul Chibingu also condemned the beds saga, saying committee members have planned to travel to Mponela on a fact finding mission and would act accordingly after investigations.
Malawi Human Rights Commission chair Sophie Kalinde said it would only act after a team of its investigators deployed to Mponela concludes their investigations.
Deputy Health Minister Halima Daudi backed by the Secretary for Health Charles Mwansambo insisted on Tuesday that there was nothing wrong in the transfer of the beds as they were staying idle at the institution.
"It is part of government policy. They had a lot of beds and other equally deserving Malawians were sleeping on the floor in other districts," Daudi told irked parliament's Women's Caucus members who visited the facility. She stressed government will not return the beds.
Meanwhile, ruling People's Party (PP) has been accused of using the beds to campaign in the Mzimba Central by-elections.
Independent candidate, Kandodo Mvula, said in an interview that his friend who is also PP Mzimba committee secretary, Henry Shumba, was arrested at 11 pm after he had earlier told a radio station that the party's candidate Aram Beza was claiming during campaign that he had donated the beds to the Edingeni and Euthini hospitals.
Shumba, who also confirmed the incident in a phone interview, said he had fled from police custody.
The 13 beds are now reportedly at Euthini and Edingeni health centres in the district where the battle for the constituency, previously held by the current Vice President and Health Minister Khumbo Kachali is raging on.
Mzimba Police Station spokesperson Gift Nyirongo said he was yet to receive a report on the matter from Euthini police unit while the phone for Officer-In-Charge for Euthini Police Unit, only identified as Mr Chidipha, could not be reached.