LACK OF HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT COSTS NEWBORN LIVES IN LIKOMA

By Keith Tewesa, White Ribbon Alliance Malawi, Citizen Journalist/Midwife

Pre-term newborns require special care after birth and should be kept separate from full-term babies in a hospital's nursery. Photo Credit: WRA Malawi.

Pre-term newborns require special care after birth and should be kept separate from full-term babies in a hospital's nursery. Photo Credit: WRA Malawi.

St. Peter's Hospital, under the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi and working in partnership with the Malawi government, is the only hospital in Likoma District. It has only one health centre, on another Island called Chizumulu.

Being the only hospital in the whole district, you would expect this hospital to be fully equipped. However, this is not the case. This revelation came up as a result of an audit into the death of a pre-term newborn, a death that shouldn’t have happened. The eight weeks pre-term baby died due to apnea attacks, unexplained episodes of pauses of breathing for 20 seconds or longer. If the hospital was fully equipped, the baby could have been saved because such complications can be handled with adequate lifesaving newborn equipment.

The newborn also had sepsis, an infection in newborns that usually develops if they are not cared for in an extremely hygienic environment. It was revealed that the hospital does not have a special room for the care of these pre-term babies and that, currently, they are being monitored in a postnatal ward along with other full-term born babies.

St. Peter’s Hospital lacks very important equipment, such as a resuscitation machine (the one available has an uncontrollable temperature gauge that can kill babies), an incubator, and a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, amongst others.

Asked to comment, the responsible authorities from both CHAM and the government said that they are doing all they can to make sure the hospital has enough reliable equipment to help in saving the lives of mothers and all babies, including those born pre-term.