Anaesthesiologists are often forgotten despite their critical roles in operating rooms and other areas in the healthcare system, an official in the Ministry of Health (MoH) has said.
MoH chief of health services Charles Mwansambo said this on Saturday in Blantyre at the first-ever annual conference of the Society of Anaesthesiologists held under the theme Saving the Lives of Mothers: Obstetric Anaesthesia and Critical Care in Malawi.
He said: “Anaesthesists are what I would call unsung heroes in society. When someone has surgery, you would hear them talk about the surgeon who operated on them and not the health workers who put them to sleep through the procedure and also helped them come out of the sleep.
“Anaesthetists are a critical group and I am glad that they have come together to form this society that will help push forward the agenda of anaesthetists and all those providing anaesthesia in the country, including critical care.”
Mwansambo noted that the country has an acute shortage of anaesthetists.
He said to address the challenges, government has introduced a diploma course in anaesthesia and critical and intensive care at Malawi College of Health Sciences as well as a bachelor’s degree and a master’s at College of Medicine, a constituent college of the University of Malawi.
The association’s president, Delia Mabedi-Munthali, said they plan to create a forum where anaesthetists can discuss issues concerning their profession.
She said the conference was organised to tackle issues of maternal mortality and morbidity.
“As you might be aware, most women are dying in hospitals. We would like to inform our colleagues working in anaesthesia and those working in critical care that they have a critical role to play in reducing the burden of maternal mortality and morbidity,” said Mabedi-Munthali.
She noted that the number of women dying during childbirth is too high when compared to the Western world.
Despite the country having only four specialists, there are over 200 anaesthetical clinical officers trained to provide anaesthesia in the country, serving in theatres and intensive care units. n