Katandula (right) presenting the donation
* A fulfillment of the pledge it made last week to assist various COVID-19 treatment units
* It injected K100 million of which K20 million has gone to Queens
* The other for Nkhotakota and Chikwawa-Kasinthula isolation centres
By Duncan Mlanjira
As Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital continues to grapple with increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients on a daily basis — coupled with efforts to increase treatment units — Illovo Sugar Plc Malawi has donated 21 hospital beds complete with mattresses and drip stands, 3 patient monitors and 10 nebulisers.
This is Illovo Sugar’s fulfillment of the pledge it made last week to assist various COVID-19 treatment units when it injected K100 million towards the fight against the second wave of the pandemic, of which K20 million has gone towards the medical equipment to Queens.
As of Tuesday, there was a total of 259 active cases under admissions in over 20 hospitals across the country with Blantyre having the highest at 83 followed by 80 in Lilongwe and 15 in Mzimba North.
There were 46 cases that were admitted in treatment units on Tuesday while 45 were discharged.
Following increases in the number of admissions, the health authorities are creating more space for treatment units at referral hospitals including establishing field hospitals — one of which has just been commissioned at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
Doctors Without Borders (Medicins san Frontier, MSF) — in responce to a call by the health authorities in Blantyre — has also launched an emergency intervention to tackle the exponential increase in the number of severe patients.
In addition to providing manpower, oxygen and technical support to other wards at Queens, MSF is setting up an additional ward of 40 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients, which will be fully equipped and staffed by MSF.
Thus Illovo Sugar Malawi decided to come in with the support and the other funds from the K100 million will go towards the rehabilitation of COVID-19 isolation centres for Nkhotakota District Hospital and Chikwawa Kasinthula — where it’s sugar estates are located.
In his speech at the presentation ceremony on Tuesday, Illovo Sugar Malawi Managing Director, Lekani Katandula said these are very difficult times for the nation as a whole and they believe that in order for them to succeed as a business, they need the communities they operate in to thrive.
“What is apparent now is that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it very difficult for communities to thrive,” Katandula said. “The disruption to livelihoods and the devastation being caused by death due to COVID-19 is unprecedented.
“Therefore, following the public appeal for assistance made to the private sector by the state President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and private appeals by the Vice-President Dr. Saulos Chilima, Illovo as one of the significant players in the economy decided to respond positively to these appeals.”
This contribution is also in addition to the K10 million Illovo donated during the first wave of the pandemic to the Kameza isolation center in form of hospital beds and monitors and a further K60 million support for Blantyre City Council, Chikwawa and Nkhotakota district hospitals during the first wave.
Illovo also has ongoing internal campaign tagged ‘COVID-19: It’s In Our Hands’ which it launched in April 2020 aimed at encouraging all our employees to commit to behaving in a manner that will help stop the spread of the pandemic at work, in their homes and in their communities .
“The contribution to Queens also confirms our firm commitment to join the government in its efforts to those that are adversely affected by the virus in the country.
“We hope that our contribution as well as those of many others from the private sector will in some way help to ease the financial burden which the government is facing in its efforts to fight this pandemic,” Katandula said.
He applauded healthcare workers across the country for their dedication to save lives and encouraged the public to religiously adhere to all preventive protocols such as the wearing of masks, washing of hands and maintaining social distancing at all times.
As of Tuesday, the country registered 538 new COVID-19 cases, 573 new recoveries, 14 new deaths — bringing a total number of active cases at 14,449 with recoveries at 9,518 and related deaths at 726 (case fatality rate at 2.9%).
All new cases are locally transmitted with Mzimba North as the highest at 166 followed by Blantyre at 142 and 101 from Lilongwe.
From the 14 new COVID-19 related deaths, five were from Lilongwe, two from Blantyre, and one each from Mzimba North, Mzimba South, Neno, Rumphi, Dedza, Kasungu and Mwanza Districts.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 24,903 cases of which 1,960 are imported infections and 22,943 are locally transmitted while 134 were lost to follow-up, and 76 are still being investigated to ascertain their outcome.