A newborn’s mother died yesterday in Mitundu after power went out as medics attended to her heavy bleeding and back-up power failed.
Tereza Ziyasi, 32, was admitted to Mitundu Community Hospital on the outskirts of Lilongwe and gave birth to a girl weighing four kilogrammes earlier yesterday, according to records at the hospital.
The Nation team was at the hospital when the incident happened and witnessed the ambulance leaving the facility only to return less than 30 minutes later.
Interviews with health officials at the facility, who refused to be named because they are not authorised spokespersons, revealed that if power was available the hospital could have handled the situation. They said the referral was a gamble, but there was no option.
Officials disclosed that the woman, who came from Kachepa Village, Traditional Authority Chilikumwendo in Dedza District, bled excessively after giving birth, prompting healthcare workers to prescribe blood transfusion.
Said one official: “The challenge is that power had gone out so the theatre where she could be examined properly was non-functional, she desperately needed a blood transfusion in the course of losing blood which circulates oxygen
“In addition to that, we don’t have working concentrators which power mobile oxygen machines which you can use in the absence of electricity.”
It was learnt that the hospital has a standby generator, but the source said it had run out of diesel which is delivered through the Lilongwe District Health Office.
Mitundu Rural Hospital deputy in-charge Aubrey Nsunza confirmed in an interview last evening that they struggled to manage the case due to lack of electricity.
“She lost a lot of blood and we couldn’t take her to the theatre because by that time there was no electricity and there was no fuel in our back-up generator,” he said.
The newly-born baby was seen being attended to by a ward attendant and a guardian.
A sombre mood engulfed those around, including expectant mothers and guardians, who could not help, but shed a tear as they watched an ambulance carrying the dead body leaving the premises.
Hospital records show that the deceased was a mother of five, including the new born.
Meanwhile, National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi president Dorothy Ngoma has described the incident as shocking while questioning those responsible for logistics why they let the hospital run without fuel.
She said: “For the hospital not being a priority, it means that somebody is not demanding for the hospital to be a priority. Those in charge are supposed to be demanding from anybody who has power.
“May be the hospital has a team that is exhausted with challenges having cried out for assistance which has not been coming. So, it has given up.”
On how they are ensuring that hospitals are supplied with fuel all the times, Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said community facilities do not fall under their jurisdiction.
He said: “For us the policy is that no woman should die from any maternal complications. So, any woman dying because of maternal complications, we investigate: Was it due to human error? Was it due to negligence? But if you are talking about fuel then the council should respond.”
Lilongwe District Council and district health office officials could not be reached for comment.
Mitundu Community Hospital delivers 500 babies per month according to hospital records.