This line is not new to you. Do not dare a cop if you have not mastered the fine print of the law. I am not going to dare them for sure. You got to love their game. Driving on our roads and they can check you out. From your insurance, driving licence, certificate of fitness (CoF), braking lights, reversing lights, hooter, the red triangles, the quality of your tyres, the list is long. It is all hidden in the traffic rules somehow. This week, they went much better by numbering things up. Who pays attention to data is king and wins all the time.
You would think there are no statistics in the stations. The usual ones we get are the number of accidents during major holidays such as Easter and associated fatalities. One online media outlet just reported that K920 million was lost through robberies. This is why I am not going to dare them. They are pretty good at their game. Their trade thrives on fact and evidence, all that I call numbers. Stich them up, you feel the wisdom.
If you can add resources, financial loss through white collar crimes at a click of a button, one can see that we could be talking of billions of some kind, after this 920. We can add petty theft and other little things from dishonest employees to traders that systematically rip you off in the name of entrepreneurship. Well, to some, crime pays, but the cost is also important if quantifiable. There are no clear ways to quantification, though one can argue the consequent resource misallocation. For example, a resource generated from crime may have completely different returns from a genuinely derived one. It’s all numbering as glorifying ignorance lacks class.
I was not daring the cops, but just like I said a couple of weeks ago, there is some tyranny in the numbers. It is in numbers that the devil is hidden and once we all come to grips, we can’t derail the fermentation of our economy. I really liked the way our police shed light on monetary losses of violent crime. Think of the cost to victims who still have to pay our legally registered loan sharks that swim in billions of profit every year.
Let us begin to think of our health system to stich up our numbers. Besides education, it is a foundation for national development in any country, God-loving or quota system obsessed. It would be a waste of time trying to explain why each one of us needs good health care. Like food, it is a basic right as it ensures children complete school or workers remain productive. A teacher cannot stand in class amid a loose bowel. It’s that simple. Remember this sad episode? Good health matters, and it requires evidence based or data sensitive planning.
So when you see those desperate situations at Kamuzu Central where three patients share a bed and diseases, look in the devil of numbers. You can then plan a coffee date with someone that makes bread. It is in these numbers that we need to pay more attention.
On 4 November 1977, Kamuzu Banda opened Kamuzu Central Hospital as a referral hospital for the Central and Northern regions. In 1977 Lilongwe had a population of 102, 00 but now has already passed the 1 million mark. The whole Central Region now is almost 7 million compared to 2 million in 1977. From another angle, the population of Malawi in 1977, is 25 percent smaller than the entire Central Region at the today. Aren’t you scared?
The brutality of numbers remains in their ruthlessness and blatant truth. But the good thing, not all truth hurts, it simply helps us do things better and safeguard the dignity of every citizen. If we see all that chaos at Kamuzu Central Hospital, it is because the 36-year-old referral was built to cater for a population of 2 million. It now caters for 7 million. I wouldn’t want to replicate the same analogy for the other cities. But what is the point?
As we come to terms with our mighty kwacha and our desire to attract as many foreign investors, the health system is one aspect that requires a radical decision. Think of Lilongwe as our major gateway and naturally one would expect most investors setting base in this city. While money talks and remains a motivation of any investor their choice of any city to put their money never ignores what should happen if they fall sick. If we were to heavily borrow and build new huge hospitals, I do not think anyone in this country would get annoyed unless they have issues synonymous with trendy malingering.
Since 1964, or if I may use the catchy 51, we have only built two referral hospitals. During the same period we have borrowed money to build a stadium, hotels, roads, parliament and many other things. There is no piecemeal solution, but we need hard ones to deal with the health crisis.
While it is easy to wear a liberal hat or a politically incorrect shoe that reckons each one of us should pay, the case of Kamuzu Central will remain a crisis just like all other referral facilities. That all our major four cities require more referral facilities with more specialty units is not rocket science anymore. It can only be if you bask in the glory of private insurance with immediate foreign medical evacuation benefits.
Our call to attract more foreign capital surely can move hand-in-hand with investing in our health system that has hallmarks of a war zone.