Winstone Kaimira

Winstone Kaimira

Agriculture stakeholders in Nkhotakota District have been asked to do more on provision of technical support in promoting value addition of agricultural products.

A boy aged seven has died after being hit by a tyre that detached from a truck at Mpondaganga Trade Centre in Nkhotakota district.

Plans are underway to establish Nkhotakota Fisheries Association which shall assist in activities such as conserving unique fish species and controlling overfishing on Lake Malawi and other water bodies.

In our special report this week, Winstone Kaimira, brings to light challenges rocking the adult literacy program in Malawi at a time illiteracy is high and, elsewhere, negatively affecting desired progress.

This is a story in which adult literacy instructors as well as supervisors, are openly expressing frustration as they receive as little as K15,000.00 in honoraria per month but through the government salaries account.

The instructors and supervisors are puzzled that the processing of these payments is also done through the government salaries account, while governments’ own minimum wage, stands at K50,000.00 per month.

The Chairperson for the Anglican Council of Malawi, Bishop Alinafe Kalemba, has called on religious leaders to do more to improve the spiritual life of children in the country so as to have leaders of high integrity in the future.

Government says it is in a process of procuring Cholera vaccine, in readiness for a nationwide vaccination exercise.

Some community members in one of hard to reach areas in Nkhotakota, are operating an unregistered junior primary school called Chankhanu, for 10 years now, with hope that it shall one day, be recognized by government and become a public institution.

Cases of human-elephant conflict are expected to reduce in areas surrounding Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve following an exercise to fit the animals with tracking devices to easily monitor their movements.

The Ministry of Lands is expected to release a report of the Dwangwa Estate Boundary Retracement Survey , which is expected to end land encroachment wrangles between Illovo Sugar Company which owns the estate and surrounding communities.

Some expectant women, guardians as well as mothers of newly born babies, in the area of Senior Chief Mwansambo in Nkhotakota district, have alleged that some health workers at Mwansambo Health Centre, demand 10 000 Kwacha for their services, on deliveries made at the facility.

The women allege that the tendency is deep-rooted, such that newly born babies and their mothers are detained if they do not have the money until it is paid.

A woman who was at the health centre recently, claims that the demand prompted her to obtain a 10, 000 Kwacha loan with high interest, in an arrangement popularly known as "Katapira", to redeem her daughter and newly born grandchild from the health centre.

“I did not have the money, so I went to obtain a Katapira loan. A number of guardians equally had the problem,’ she said.

According to the woman, an offence which her daughter had committed, was of failing to travel to Nkhotakota District Hospital, where she was referred to for delivery.

She also alleged that a Pharmacy at the facility operates from around 10 am, leading to long queues, almost on daily basis.

Another woman who also expressed concern on the Pharmacy issue, said it is surprising that only the Pharmacy operates in this manner, wondering how officers in other departments including Clinicians manage to start operations on time.

Senior Chief Mwansambo of the area said he is overwhelmed with such complaints.

He said when he went to the health centre to enquire about the tendency of demanding cash for maternal services, he was surprised to learn that the arrangement is under a by-law.

The traditional leader alleged that the bylaw was formulated without the knowledge of chiefs.

“At first, the health workers were demanding 3 000 Kwacha per delivery, but now the figure stands at 10, 000 Kwacha. We have by-laws as traditional leaders but we are not aware of this one,” said Mwansambo.

He also wondered why the health officials reach the extent of detaining babies as well as their mothers over the informal payment.

This prompted the Senior Chief to express his frustration over the matter, during a Full Council Meeting held in Nkhotakota District Council Chambers.

Nkhotakota District Health Spokesperson, Garry Chilinga, says an investigation on the allegations is underway.

But when contacted today, he could not specify as to when the probe shall be concluded.

Meanwhile, Health Rights Activist, George Jobe, says perpetrators of such tendencies, need to be punished.

Jobe, who is also the Executive Director of the Malawi Health Equity Network, noted that cases of informal payments in public health facilities are increasingly being reported, in most parts of the country.

"We wonder why this is happening because we hear messages on radio and television stations reminding people that services in public health facilities are free", said Jobe.

He added that communities around Mwansambo Health Centre, need to be sensitized to ensure they do not pay for free services at the facility.

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