BLANTYRE--Presidential Press Secretary Steven Nhlane on Wednesday urged the Malawi media to get their facts from Dowa hospital on the controversial "stealing" of beds allegedly at the directive by the Minister of Health Khumbo Kachale, who is also the vice president, to send them to his Mzimba constituency.
Nhlane, reacting on a forum for journalists to the big story in the Malawi media, said the information he had was that that there were 41 beds at Dowa Hospital which were not being used, 21 in the warehouse/storeroom.
"The other 20 were being kept in a ward because the storeroom could not take more than 21 since it houses other equipment there.
"As I am writing this, there are 21 beds in the storeroom at Dowa Hospital which are not being used.”
He said movement of hospital equipment and drugs from one hospital to another is an "ongoing thing" in the Ministry of Health.
"It is policy. Not too long ago, the Ministry moved a generator from Mchinji District Hospital to Dedza District Hospital. That was normal. People of Mchinji did not cry wolf for moving the generator to another district to serve Malawians elsewhere," he said.
Similarly, he said, "drugs are being moved around almost everyday. No big deal. But the issue of the beds is being blown out of proportion and twisted to fit a political agenda."
He said the media such as MBC, Zodiak, Capital Radio, The Nation and The Daily Times "all profess to be balanced and professional in their reporting and handling of issues. Get to the bottom of the issue, and seek the truth on this.
"Go to Dowa district hospital and get the information on the ground. Get pictures and footage of the beds that lie idle in the hospital’s warehouse/storeroom."
He also accused the women caucus group of parliament as "politicizing this issue," saying he was "not surprised because DPP’s Jean Kalirani, is the MP for Dowa Central and DPP’s Patricia Kaliatu is the most vocal on the matter.”
"By the way, why did Kalirani oversupply Dowa Hospital with beds when there were other hospitals which did not have anything?
"At the end of the day, this is a fight between Halima Daudi (Deputy Health minister from Dowa) and Jean Kalirani (former health minister also from the same district).
Nhlane, a former editor of the Malawi News before he was appointed to his position by Pres Joyce Banda, said:" I know we are all entitled to our views and we are expressing them here loudly. The Veep Khumbo Kachali, as head of the ministry, will get the flak for being the head of the ministry and implementing what is policy.
"But politically the message that matters most at this point in time, and the message that will get down to the people in the two constituencies where the campaign for votes is underway in Mzimba is that DPP is refusing to share resources with the people in the two constituencies. DPP is shooting themselves in the foot.
The incident, first reported by Zodiac Radio, has damaged the reputation of Kachale and that of his PP, coming several days after public opinion forced him to offer an apology for his political outbursts in Karonga recently when he said he would not stop travelling locally because he doesn’t go to the homes of the mothers of his critics.
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