Patients at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe have to endure additional pain as they move up and down the three-storey hospital’s staircase due to a malfunctioning elevator.
The sole elevator that serves the country’s second biggest referral hospital has not been functioning properly since December 2017.
Patients have to be carried on wheelchairs and stretchers up and down the three-storey facility.
The reporter’s visit to KCH on Wednesday established that some patients hire porters to carry them up and down the building due to the problem.
A quick check showed that the buttons of the elevator no longer work. Workers, patients and guardians had to strike at the elevator and hope it will come down or go up.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), executive director George Jobe, fears that lives will needlessly be lost because of government’s failure to replace the ageing elevator.
According to the workers, who spoke to Weekend Nation on condition of anonymity, what makes the elevator even more dangerous is that sensors that detect human movement, as users walk in and out of the elevator, have also stopped working.
“One wrong move, you can have your body crushed, right here. If you are not careful, you can lose your hand or worse,” a guard on duty said.
Jobe said the Ministry of Health needs to buy a new elevator as soon as possible.
“That elevator has outlived its life. KCH was constructed a long time ago, the hospital has three to four storeys, and patients cannot walk up and down,” Jobe said on Wednesday.
He warned that if the elevator’s door sensors are down, an accident can happen.
In an interview on Wednesday, Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said government is already working on replacing the elevator.
He said the total cost of the procurement and installation of the new elevator is K120 million.
Malango said: “We are aware of the matter and we are in the process of procuring a new elevator.
“All procurement processes have been done and we are waiting for the supplier to be paid and bring the new machine for installation anytime soon.”