By Juliana Lunguzi, MP Dedza East
Bearing in mind that some Health Personnel refuse to work in rural areas due to lack of electricity, this house resolves that allocation of the Malawi Rural Electrification Program (MAREP) must extend to all Health facilities in the country – North, South, Centre, East and West.This will also increase use of modern gadgets for diagnosis and treatment in rural areas, leading to better service delivery not just to hospitals, and the electricity can even be extended to schools.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker Sir, for allowing me to move the Motion standing in my name on today’s order. Honourable First Deputy Speaker, the motion seeks to move this honourable house that for the coming three (3) years (2016 – 2019), the Malawi Rural Electrification Project should extend electricity to rural health centres for the reasons outlined below.
2.0 THE CURRENT SITUATION:
Honourable Mr Speaker Sir, lack of electricity is negatively impacting service delivery in rural health centres, hence contributing to increased morbidity and mortality cases.
For a start, tack of electricity makes postings to rural areas unattractive for Health Personnel. For example, one Health Officer reported that her centre serves 300 patients on average per day and that at least 8 nurses would be ideal. But because of lack of electricity, the Centre only has two nurses.
This forces patients to seek medical care from better hospitals further from their homes, adding an extra financial burden to the people in the rural areas whose financial status is already very low. Worse still, during rainy seasons, the distant facilities with electricity are inaccessible.
In addition to the staffing challenge, unavailability of electricity limits the use of advanced technology for screening diagnostic tests like microscopy, XRAYs and some simple laboratory services.
Again, in this age of Tele-medicine lack of electricity limits interaction between specialists and health centre staff in cases that can be easily managed.
Mr Speaker Sir, you will all agree with me that sick people cannot develop Malawi. Hence we should invest in health by targeting rural health facilities for the wellbeing of our fellow citizens.
3.0 WHAT THE SITUATION SHOULD HAVE BEEN:
Honourable Mr Speaker sir, section 13 (c) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi 1994 says “the State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving provision of adequate health care, commensurate with the health needs of Malawian society and international standards of health care”.
Article 16 (2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, to which Malawi is a state party and has ratified, states that “State parties to the present charter shall take the necessary measures to protect the health of their people and to ensure that they receive medical attention when they are sick.”
It is therefore the duty of this Honourable House to ensure that the legislation conforms to national policy and international standards. But the truth is: we are failing because as it stands many rural hospitals do not have electricity, yet about 85% of the total population is in the rural areas.
In the spirit of equality and equity and in our quest “not to leave anyone behind”, extending electricity to all health facilities for better health service technology and stability of tenure is a right we should extend to our rural fellow citizens. As someone with first-hand experience in running a hospital, I fail to imagine how we expect the rural health centres to function without electricity, let alone attract and retain medical personnel.
4.0 PROPOSED SOLUTION:
The solution is obvious: we MUST electrify health centers. This will address the problem of newly recruited health workers migrating from rural health centres and facilitate use of modern medical equipment in those health facilities.
Just imagine the positive impact that ALL the rural health centres from ALL our constituencies with electricity in the next 3 months will have! In the least, we are going to have healthy people ready and poised to drive development!
5.0 THE MOTION:
Honourable Mr Speaker Sir, I therefore beg to beg to move that: “Considering the fact that most newly recruited Health Personnel refuse to work in rural areas due to lack of electricity, this house resolves that allocation of the Malawi Rural Electrification Program (MAREP) must extend to all Health facilities in the country – North, South, Centre, East and West.
This will increase use of modern gadgets for diagnosis and treatment in rural area, leading to better service delivery not just to hospitals, but even schools will benefit from the electrification programme.”
I beg to Move Mr Speaker Sir………
Editor’s Note: The motion was adopted by the House on December 1, 2016
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