By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi’s main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Vice-president Sidik Mia assertion that once voted into the government the MCP shall make sure that for every community there is health service centres within a 4km radius is possible, says the party’s Director of Political Affairs for the Eastern Region, Benson Jackson Ojesi.
He said the facts that MCP is presenting are based on the Malawi Health Sector Strategic Plan II (HSSP II) for 2017-2022; the Malawi Demographic Health Survey conducted in 1992 and the party’s experts’ personal encounter in some parts of the country.
“A 4km radius from where I am to a clinic or health hentre, means 8km between the clinics or health centres,” Ojesi said. “In Blantyre for example, Ndirande Health Centre is about 4km from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (Queens); Zingwangwa Health Centre is also 4km from Queens. This means that people of Nkolokosa, Naperi, Chitawira have less than 2km to access a health facility.
“Chilomoni Health Centre is 7km away from Queens and 6km away from Chirimba Health Centre. In Lilongwe, Kawale Health Centre is 3km from KCH and 4km from Bottom Hospital. Biwi Health Centre is 2km from Kawale and 3km from Bwaila Bottom Hospital.
“This means people around these health centres and hospitals have a radius of less than 2kms to health facilities. Maluwa and Katchale government clinics in Chadza are 3.5kms away from each other. This means the people in between these clinics have access to health facilities at a radius of less than 3km.
“This distance is between government health facilities. In between we might have Mission/CHAM health facilities, which are offering government subsdised health services too.
“This might not be the case in other rural areas where patients travel more than 10kms to access the nearest primary health facility. In Mangochi for example, there is no primary Government health facility between Monkey Bay and Mangochi, a distance of over 45kms. Thanks to Nkope and Koche CHAM health centres under the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches respectively.
“It is more than 30km between Monkey Bay Hospital and Mbvumba Health Centre. Thanks to Malembo Mission Health Centre under CCAP Nkhoma Synod which slashes the distance by half.
“If the government would provide conducive environment for CHAM health facilities as well as private health facilities, it is very possible to achieve the 5km radius as per the Ministry of Health 2017-2022 Strategic paper.
“We can even achieve the 4km radius advocated by the MCP Vice-president, Hon. Sidik Mia — the strategy to achieve the 4km radius is by improving the Public/Private Partnership on Health, like incentifying CHAM and private clinics to offer affordable but quality health services.”
Ojesi said the promise by the MCP, as indicated by Mia, of 4km radius access to health facilities is therefore achievable and will improve access to healthcare for the citizenry.
“This will help reduce mortality rate as patients and expectant mothers will reach health facilities within the shortest time possible. People don’t have to travel 50kms and spend K5,000 just for a toothache. If the health facilities were nearby, it would help save a poor man’s hard earned K5,000 and time to travel the 50km.
“Hon. Mia knew what he was saying. With an improved Ministry of Health and CHAM relationship, more CHAM health facilities can be opened thereby improving the distance between the citizens and the health facilities,” Ojesi said.