Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hospital send patient home

..Government still looking for a specialist in SA—Ngaunje
By Rex Chikoko
Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), a referral hospital in Blantyre Malawi, has discharged a patient, suffering from a cancer, despite the referral committee of Ministry of Health recommended that she should sent to South Africa for further treatment.

The patient, Mphatso Mhango, was referred to QECH from Mzuzu hospital, three months ago where doctors at QECH also referred her to outside the country for further treatment, however two months down the line the patient is still in the country.

One of Mhango's relatives,Vilunjike Manda, said it was surprising that government was failing to facilitate the transportation of the patient despite the referral committee's recommendation after assessing the gravity of the situation.

“Nobody is telling us what is happening and to make matters worse the patient has been discharged without telling us the way forward,” he said.

Manda said he has been taking up the matter with the hospital authorities but they have been directing him to ministry’s head quarter.

“We were told that it was a benign tumor which if operated on quickly the patient will get work, however the case has been worsening while the patient was in hospital.

“We do not know the idea behind discharging the patient when she was supposed to be going to South Africa for treatment,” he said.

A Member of the Referral Committee Dr. Mathias Joshua, who was also the Acting Hospital director at the time the decision was made said government is trying to identify a doctor who would attend to the patient when she went to South Africa.

“We are currently looking for a doctor in South Africa who would to the operation, once the doctor has been identified she is going to be sent for operation,” he said.

However, Dr Joshua would not tell how long it would take to identify a doctor based on the urgency of the matter saying: “The process of sending her to South Africa has started and someone is looking for a doctor.”

Minister of Health Marjorie Ngaunje said much as she was not aware of that particular case she said the process of sending a person outside the country further treatment takes time.

She said there is a government agent in South Africa who search for doctor when a referral case is forwarded to him and that the patient can only leave the country when the doctor has been identified.

“It is not easy to find a specialist in South Africa, there are a lot people who are waiting to be sent for further treatment,” she said.

Ngaunje said every Malawian has got a right to treatment and there was not special treatment for VIPs when it come to referring people to outside the country hospitals.

“Human dignity is supreme in sickness and there are no VIPs when it comes to sending people outside the country for treatment,” she said.

Concerns have been raised that government favours government dignitaries when it comes to referring people for outside treatment despite that those people are financially capable to seek treatment else where.

Referral Committee was established to be recommending patient, mostly those who would not afford to pay for their treatment, to outside hospitals.

It has been observed that government dignitaries, when they are sick, are quickly send to outside the country's hospitals even if the ailment would be treated locally.

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