Alarmed at increased fatalities and injuries involving motorcyclists, the Parliamentary Committee on Health has worked out a motion to minimise the accidents.
The development comes at a time health facilities are facing challenges to handle various cases in a constrained health sector resource environment.
The committee’s chairperson Matthews Ngwale disclosed this in an interview on Wednesday after a write-up circulated on social media detailing challenges facing Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in dealing with motorcycle accidents.
The article claimed that 90 percent of casualties in orthopaedic wards are victims of motorcycle accidents.
Analysts have blamed traffic authorities’ failure to enforce regulations such as impounding motorcycles for unlicensed operators and not wearing helmets.
The report which has generated a lot of feedback reads in part: “Orthopaedic surgeons
are overwhelmed and can only operate five to seven patients per day. Those that need operations are around 90 percent.”
While a KHC source told Nation on Sunday that the revelations were within the reality of the situation, the hospital’s spokesperson Winnie Yotamu said they were gathering data and could not immediately respond to our questionnaire.
Ngwale observed that the situation was getting out of hand; hence, the need for Parliament to push the government, through a motion to be presented this week, to start enforcing regulations that can minimise road accidents.
He said: “Nobody has brought the issue to say how the accidents are impacting on the health budget. This will be the first time we raise the issue through the motion.”
Ngwale blamed the rise in motorcycle accidents on the country’s failure to regulate the operators from the onset.
“Motorcycles were few and were properly registered and riders properly licensed. However, recently we have seen an increase in the number of motorcycles due to porous borders and Mozambique supplying them at cheaper prices,” he said.
Asked about the situation at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, director Samson Mdolo said motorcycle accidents were becoming a public health issue at the facility.
He could not give statistical details as he asked for a questionnaire which he had not responded to as we went to press yesterday.
The Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety (DRTSS) spokesperson Angelina Makwecha had not yet responded to our questionnaire seeking an explanation of the accidents’ situation, but last year, the directorate had described the kabanza situation as an “unfolding crisis”.
DRTSS further said it had come up with measures to minimise motorcycle accidents which included raising public awareness on the importance of riders undergoing formal training
and obtaining licences.
Asked to provide official statistics on motorcycle accidents for this year, national Police deputy spokesperson Harry Namwaza said in the first quarter of this year, which ran from January to March, they recorded 214 accidents involving motorcycles which claimed 25 lives.
He admitted that police have not fully enforced the law against the operators because most of them operate in areas where traffic officials are not available.
In a story we carried around this time last year showed that the country in 2020 had registered 1 488 accidents involving motorcycles compared to 830 registered in 2019, going by the trend, last year’s figure could double.
And from January 2021 to August 2021, kabanza accidents claimed 860 lives, according to data from the Ministry of Homeland Security