Public Services on Sale at Public Hospitals

By: Thula Chisamba

The Mzuzu Central-one of the public referral hospitals in Malawi has been caught charging patients seeking dental and X-ray services.

Mzuzu Central Hospital: No pay - No X-ray
Mzuzu Central Hospital: No pay? then – No

Investigations conducted by this publication unveiled that authorities at the facility instructed medics to be demanding money from patients seeking the above-stated services.

Leaked documents show that patients had to pay at least MWK2,500 to get access to X-ray services-Those seeking dental services has to pay at least MWK1500 to access medication.

The development is worrisome and dumbfounding to most financially crippled patients who depend on public health facilities.

Lusungu Chirwa, a victim of the malpractice confided to this reporter that dental experts at this facility are crooks-They swindled his hard-earned money twice.

“I had a toothache and due to my financial situation, a public hospital was the only option because normally they are free. To my surprise, before any treatment, medics demanded MWK1500 from me,” he said.

No Pay-No X-ray
No Pay-No X-ray

After reminding them that Mzuzu Central is a public hospital, Chirwa was told it was an obligation to pay the amount before any treatment.

“The only money I had, was for my transport from Mzuzu to Nkhatabay-but because I was feeling so much pain, I paid the demanded amount,” he added.

Surprisingly, Chirwa was not issued with a receipt because medics turned aggressive after he demanded the same.

Naomi Mkumbwa had her own version of a related story, but her’s concerned the problems she had to access X-ray services.

“I was referred here from Chitipa rural hospital for X-ray but for close to two weeks now, I am unable to find MK2,500 they asked me to pay for the services,” she said in a sad tone.

Evidently, there are many patients sharing concerns of the two preceding patients and the question still remains as to why this public facility is charging patients seeking for such services?

Frank Banda, publicist for the hospital declined to comment further but only assumed that the said charges must be “Cross-over fees” everybody has to pay at a referral facility like Mzuzu central hospital.

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