US embassy in Malawi donates 185 emergency vehicles to the Ministry of Health

Remember my post here, from December 2014 about Motorcycles.

Well, it seems the US Embassy in Malawi has done something similar to what was being suggested in that post. According to their Facebook Page, on Friday 22nd January :

U.S. Embassy Charge d’ Affaires Michael Gonzales today symbolically handed over 185 emergency vehicles to the Malawi Ministry of Health, including 15 motor vehicle ambulances, 162 bicycle ambulances, and eight motorcycles. Today’s donation is part of the U.S. Government’s ongoing support to end preventable child and maternal deaths in Malawi. The ambulances will help strengthen the Ministry of Health’s service delivery in five districts: Lilongwe Rural, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, and Nsanje. Responding to the recent cholera outbreak, three motor vehicle ambulances have already been delivered to Machinga district.

Bicycle-ambulances
US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Michael Gonzales handing over 185 emergency vehicles to the Ministry of Health. (Copyright of  image) US Embassy Malawi.

This is a step in the right direction for the provision of health services in Malawi, and will hopefully mean that more people in the remote areas in the five districts are able to access health services in emergency situations.

What I’m not clear about is why only those five districts mentioned above have been selected as recipients?? Does that mean that in rural areas in districts like Mchinji, Kasungu, Nkhotakota, Rumphi and Chitipa such vehicles are not needed? Or are the areas which will benefit from this donation the ones with the highest need, in terms of greater volume of demand for emergency services? Still, since this donation came through via the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programme run by US Agency for International Development (USAid), a more even distribution of the vehicles would have meant more people across the country stood to benefit.

 

 

Appeal and Update on the floods in southern Malawi

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Malawi: Thousands of flood victims unable to receive aid

Johannesburg/Nsanje, January 16th 2015 – Up to twenty thousand people in the southern tip of Malawi most affected by the current floods remain cut off from the rest of the country without food, health care and ways to prevent possible outbreaks, the humanitarian medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Friday.

Humanitarian relief is slowly arriving in the districts of Chikwawa where the waters have started to recede. But some of the most affected areas downstream are only accessible by helicopter, making humanitarian intervention difficult. MSF, which has been responding to the floods since  January 9th, is refocusing its intervention around the town of Nsanje, where it has a long standing regular project, and is assessing ways to access the more remote East Bank.

More here on MSF website.

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Malawians in diaspora, ex-Malawian residents and friends of Malawi: A fund raising campaign has been started by Joshua Trust to help the 70,000 people left homeless by the recent floods in Malawi. Joshua Trust, a well respected community based charity, works in some of the communities that have been hardest hit. They focus on helping vulnerable children and their families. Some of these same children are trapped in-land by flood water and need immediate evacuation.

Sylvia Avgherinos, Joshua’s Executive Director has recently been awarded the Order of the British Empire for her work with the Trust. Joshua will administer the money raised. (For more information on Joshua Trust, follow this link )

Follow this link to donate funds to Joshua Orphan and Community Care for Malawi Flood Relief.

Community based efforts will be the fastest way to help these people, so thank for being part of our community.

[Source: https://www.facebook.com/MalawiLife]

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Fighting the waters : Diversion tactics and PR stunts

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Besides the revelations of corruption that have been levied against the government of Malawi, to me serious questions of doubt began after the reshuffle,  which retained many shady characters. At first I was willing to give Joyce Banda the benefit of the doubt, until in addition to everything that was flying around in the media (partly chronicled here), I read this report and saw this email.

Then I heard news of the 10% profiteering middlemen, people working for the government, or with links to the presidency who were demanding 10% in kickbacks or ‘commission’ for deals or transactions with the government, in which these people made themselves involved.

Among such shameless characters was one woman who frustrated a well-meaning philanthropist from donating desks to Malawi. In this deal, this lady who is very close to the presidency blocked a philanthropist, who wanted to donate ~100, 000 desks to Malawian schools. The lady – who is well-known and works at State House, and who you would think is remunerated by the Malawian government – demanded that she be personally paid commission totalling £100,000 for facilitating the desk donation deal (her job, i understand was to ensure that no tax or other charges were levied – except payment to her)?? As you can imagine, this suggestion infuriated the philanthropist beyond measure, he was shocked and disgusted by the very idea that desks meant for the children of Malawi, given for free to the children of Malawi, desks for which the philanthropist in his generosity would have to pay the cost of purchase, shipping and delivery, to a tune of over £300,000, should then be subject to an additional cost, a £100,000 ‘commission’ to be paid to someone whose job it already was to facilitate projects in the interests of Malawi…?? An already wealthy woman who was attempting to profiteer at the expense of poor Malawian children??

Sadly you don’t hear of these kinds of things in the news….even the person who told me this said the philanthropist, although upset, was afraid and didn’t want the public to know of his ordeal as he still has some interests and links on the ground in Malawi which he doesn’t want to be jeopardized by ‘political forces’…?? the kind of thing, he said, that happened to Madonna, which the public were fooled into believing Madonna was the one in the wrong, when in actual sense part of the story was that there had been a commission heist – and when Madge refused to pay up, she was accused, verbally assaulted, ganged upon by the said ‘political forces’.

In the case of the philanthropist, the desks deal didn’t go through, and the desks were never shipped… and of course the children who would have benefitted from them never got to receive them.

So, then you read that the Government of Malawi has hired a PR firm in London to clean up its image who straight away begin to point fingers to the previous regime? Playing the blame game? At such a critical time? When under your watch, rampant corruption has just been uncovered? Can Malawi, in its current state afford the PR agency? Is Joyce Banda using her own Money, or the money of the government to pay for Bell Pottinger?

When people are complaining of lack of medicines in hospitals, strikes and demonstrations because of the plunder at Capital Hill, fuel shortages and rise in prices of goods are on their way because of the withdrawal of aid, when there is a rise in child marriages revealing lack of opportunities and deprivation in Malawian society, when the country is littered with many problems, how is it justifiable to spend money you don’t have on what is effectively a PR stunt?

How much is this costing Malawi? Why not hire a Malawian PR company, and pay comparatively less? It’s such a shame. Joyce Banda’s government has hopped from one disastrous decision to the next… (see another here)

Personally, I don’t believe that Joyce Banda was unaware of the plunder that was happening at the time when she served as a minister then vice President in Bingu Wa Mutharika’s government, and in the articles above, I have clearly explained how and why I arrived at such a conclusion.

If Joyce Banda was serious about fixing Malawi’s troubles, she would have bought the medicines which are lacking in the hospitals on the ground, paid the teachers whose salaries have not been paid for 3 months, she would have ordered fuel reserves to last the country at least 2 years if the worst were to happen again, she would have spent resources on a big sustainable project that will reduce Malawian imports, a project that would create thousands of jobs, and generate substantial forex revenues. She would have pressed the Mozambican government over the Nsanje port issue – so that ships begin to enter via that route – an act that would again in itself stabilise or reduce the cost of goods coming into Malawi; Joyce Banda would have created a massive solar project for Malawi to generate its own electricity… and finally  she would have instructed independent auditors with neither links, no sympathies to the presidency, to get to the bottom of the Cashgate crisis.

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