Minister of Health and Population Services, Atupele Muluzi on Sunday hailed people in Mangochi for dousing the inferno that gutted down Mangochi District Hospital’s integrated maternal and child health (IMCH) clinic from spreading to other blocks and wards.
Muluzi visited the facility on Sunday evening to appreciate the damage that the fire had caused and upon being briefed on what had happened, the minister described the community’s response to the fire as true act of patriotism.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank the community for the spirit of coming together and putting out this fire before it spread to the other buildings; for that I am very, very grateful,” said Muluzi in an interview after appreciating the damage.
He said it was an extreme luck that there had been no loss of life or serious injury to any of the patients and that the health system was putting up measures in place so that the patients within Mangochi continued to be given the care they would need.
“We are working with the district hospital to ensure that health services are not interrupted and we have set up a separate facility for the out-patients department so that patients can still be receiving treatment,” Muluzi assured.
Mangochi District Council chairperson, Omar Jabil Magombo hailed the minister for the visit and emphasized on how patriotic the community had been in fighting the fire using any means available.
Magombo said the people of Mangochi had displayed good citizenship and ownership of the health facility adding that without their support the end result could have been catastrophic.
The Council appealed to the minister to consider providing the district with reliable and permanent means of fighting fire considering how big the district was growing, especially at the Boma.
“It’s high time we had a fully-fledged fire brigade in Mangochi just like Zomba and other cities have,” said Magombo, adding: “This is not the first time we have had such an accident; some time back the main market was also destroyed by fire and there was very little we could do to stop the damage: we need the fire brigade like yesterday.”
The fire broke out Sunday morning immediately after ESCOM had restored power which had been interrupted for hours at the Boma and surrounding areas and it is believed that there might have been a power surge or short circuit when the power was restored leading to the inferno.
Hundreds of people rushed to the scene within a short period and some members of the community fought the fire with water using hose pipes and buckets and some people even used sewerage water from a broken septic tank to put out the fire.
When it was certain that the fire could not be stopped from consuming the integrated (IMCH) out-patient department block; the fire fighters’ concentration moved to the main pharmacy block which stands barely one metre away from the outpatient block and it connects to the wards and other blocks.
With a score of them on the roof of the pharmacy building and some on the ground, the men fought the fire successfully and restricted it to the integrated block.
Meanwhile, the hospital staff and members of the community were evacuating patients from the wards to safer places but some patients fled the hospital on their own and their whereabouts could not immediately be traced.
“We haven’t recorded any injury or loss of life due to the fire but we are missing some patients who fled the wards on their own,” Mangochi District Health Officer (DHO), Henry Chibowa, told Mana, adding that the missing patients included premature babies whom the DHO believed had been whisked away from their incubators by their mothers.
Meanwhile, the office of the Vice President has assured the general public that it is treating the Mangochi District Hospital fire accident as a disaster and that it is handling the situation with the urgent response it deserves.