The Union of Clinicians and Allied Health Professionals has penned the Ministry of Health decrying the recent increases in water tariffs, saying the action is affecting provision of quality health care services.
During the rainy season, hospitals witness an influx of patients suffering from waterborne diseases, and the grouping fears the rise in water tariffs will worsen the situation as more people will not have access to clean and potable water.
As a consequence, they feel more people will suffer from waterborne conditions such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis and other communicable diseases that can overwhelm hospitals.
The ministry, through national programme manager for water, sanitation and hygiene, Holystone Kafanikhale, has acknowledged the risks, but said they negotiated for tariffs cuts on water bought from kiosks and for authorities to consider changing the billing system for health facilities.
Malawians now dig deep into their pockets to access tap water following a decision by the country’s water boards to raise tariffs by an average of 52 percent from November 1 2021.
The grouping, through secretary general TwisiwireMwakabana and board chairperson ElliasTsokalida
have in the letter dated November 30 2021, sked the Ministry of Health to engage authorities in the water sector to revise downwards the water tariffs.
It reads: “The increase has caused safe water to be a rare commodity especially to the poor who reside in slum areas of the cities and those living in the rural areas. It is anticipated that the increased [tariffs] will put the lives of patients and health care workers at risk.”
In a separate interview, the group’s president Davis Mlotha said the health sector is already constrained with few workers, lack of resources, equipment and drugs, as such, an increase in patients will not help the situation.
He said: “Every year our hospitals become congested due to waterborne diseases. The increase in tariffs means access to safe water has become a rare commodity and 52 percent increase is way too expensive.
“People will be taking water from unprotected sources and we are going to have lots of diseases. This time our hospitals will be congested 10 times as much. We should expect a disaster because health workers are not enough, medicines and equipment is not there.”