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Voices from Malawi

Published 03 Feb 2015

The following transcript has been taken from Dr. Ruth Shakespeare, Director of Mulanje Mission Hospital, and Dr. Cornelius Huwa, Director of Palliative Care Support Trust (PCST) in Blantyre, in communications with EMMS International following the flooding in Malawi.

Wed 14th January

Dr. Huwa: Ndirande and Chilobwe are among the most affected areas in Blantyre and also where we see a great number of patients... PCST is to start working with a CBO [community based organisation] in Blantyre [which] has been to the affected areas and mapped out some of the needs... I have personally given them money to help. The problem is severe on the ground and help is needed.

Thu 15th January

Dr. Shakespeare: Please don't expect to hear from us very often, as we have no electricity.

Mon 19th January

Dr. Shakespeare: We are in the community today, doing a post-flood needs assessment with our traditional authorities and village chiefs. Still almost no power.

Dr. Huwa: 4 people [in Chilobwe] have died, 3 are missing and feared dead. One is a medical student who was at home when the floods came and his bedroom was swept away. 10 seriously injured and receiving treatment...246 families have lost their homes…Families are staying in a primary school in Chimwankhunda, in classrooms. Our immediate needs range from blankets, tents, sanitary materials and food [and pans and plastic crockery]. We are still experiencing erratic electricity and internet.

The city council of Blantyre city has to allocate new plots for the people. They cannot build back in the same places they had. They are at risk of the same happening again.

Tue 20th January

Dr. Huwa: The donation [from the EMMS International appeal] from Botswana is welcome. The people in the classrooms…have maize flour that can take them for 3-5more days from some donor, but they have no relish to eat the nsima with… One of our patients’ home in Ndirande fell down during the heavy rains. This child is HIV positive and under our care. The family is being kept by the neighbour. Tomorrow, we will get to see them.

Fri 23rd January

Dr. Shakespeare: 1,480 people have lost their homes, and are still in need of blankets, plastic sheeting for temporary shelter, buckets for water, and a basic foodstuff package for each family (maize, beans, cooking oil and likuni phala). Severely affected villages such as Nampula and Nkonya have lost about 70 houses each.

More than 3,000 pit latrines have collapsed in this area, and rebuilding toilets is an urgent public health priority. [We could buy] the cement for the slab and iron sheet for the roof … [and] would expect the community to manage to construct toilets with supervision.

The power supply situation is now improving, with cuts every day for only 4-6 hours each. We have seen an increase in severe diarrhoea, and need to be prepared for cholera - it would be very helpful to have needles, IV giving sets, IV fluids, chlorine and latex gloves…

Mon 26th January

Dr. Shakespeare: could you check whether he can source body bags as part of our supplies?

The Response

EMMS International is helping its partners, Mulanje Mission Hospital and Palliative Care Support Trust, respond to the above needs in partnership with Aid and Development Botswana. EMMS International is grateful for donations from the Scottish Government and generous trusts and individuals. Find out more about the emergency response or to donate, visit Emergency Appeal: Malawi Flooding.