PRESS STATEMENT 17 JANUARY 2021 FROM RHETORIC TO ACTION: A CALL TO ACTION ON COVID-19 RESPONSE
HRDC would like to express is disappointment with government’s lacklustre response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it is clear to every Malawian that this second wave is an emergency that needs all hands at board, this fact seems lost to the leadership in government who have gone missing in this hour of need.
The SOS calls from the health workers on the frontline are depressing with the hospitals being stretched beyond their limits. At Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and Kamuzu Central Hospital, the situation is so dire with an ever-increasing death toll and incoming patient numbers.
From information gathered from workers on the frontline:
• There is an acute shortage of medical supplies to deal with the situation. One COVID-19 patient needs about three cylinders of uninterrupted oxygen every 24hrs.
• There is acute shortage of medical staff to support in the front line. About 8 medical workers have already died of COVID-19 in line of their duty and cumulatively about 700 are either infected or quarantined due to exposure. In short, the number of frontline workers is going down, as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
• These ‘soldiers’ of ours that are risking their lives in the frontline need to be motivated and adequately incentivised; they are giving their all to save as many lives as possible.
From the ongoing, we at HRDC recognise this to be a crisis of astronomical proportions and we would thus request that government directs resources towards fighting this pandemic, even if it means rerouting resources from other budget lines and/or ministries.
As HRDC, we have noted that the situation is so bad that the leadership vacuum vacated by those entrusted with leading the nation has been taken up by a number of patriotic Malawians who are now mobilising resources to equip the heavily strained public hospitals.
We take a moment to salute these sons and daughters of Malawi and everyone who has donated to this initiative and urge them on. Over and above, HRDC is deeply concerned and, at the same time, worried with COVID-19 developments mostly in the education sector, particularly, in the way we are handling issues involving students that have tested positive in different schools.
As of today, hundreds of students—both in secondary and tertiary education—have tested positive yet the public is still in the dark with regards to specific measures and guidelines being pursued to meet the safety and health needs of these learners.
Further, as HRDC, we have been flooded with concerns from weary parents and guardians who have not been furnished with information with regards to condition of their wards in the affected schools. Against this, HRDC is calling on government to do the following:
1. Government must release a comprehensive plan on how it is holistically responding to the crisis
2. Government must immediately release funds into the COVID-19 emergency fund and continuously account for the use of the funds
3. The Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 must immediately release a budget for critical response equipment and needs for all major hospitals and a time bound plan on how these will be provided and accounted for
4. Government must be very clear on how the education sector should handle COVID-19 cases and ensure that schools and colleges are adequately equipped to deal with cases.
5.EnforcementofCOVID19rulesandthepoliceshouldberespectedandtherightsof citizens as they are enforcing the regulations.
The rule of law should also apply other than beating citizens.
Gift Trapence National Chairperson HRDC
Happy Mhango – Regional Chair North
Madalitso Banda – Regional Chair East
Masauko Thawe – Regional Chair South
Billy Mayaya – Regional Chair Centre
Luke Tembo National Coordinator HRDC