By Duncan Mlanjira
New-elected Medical Association of Malawi (MAM) president, Dr. Grace Chiudzu has added voice by urging the public to strictly adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures as the country continues to register new cases and deaths.
As Malawi continues to register more COVID-19 cases, five people are reported to have succumbed to the pandemic as of Sunday, July 26 after recording 107 new cases.
The total number of deaths since April is now at 99 with just the past week alone registering 22.
As of Tuesday last week, there were 104 new cases with seven deaths, on Thursday there were 84 new with three deaths, Saturday there were 103 new with seven deaths while Sunday recorded 107 new with five deaths.
A situation report presented by co-chairperson of Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka says four of the new deaths occurred in Lilongwe and one in Blantyre.
The new recoveries are at 60, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1,645 while total number of active cases is 1,920.
Of the 107 new cases, 87 are locally transmitted infections and 20 imported identified among Malawians returning from South Africa by bus.
Dr. Phuka update indicates that COVID-19 healthcare workers continue to be vulnerable as from the locally transmitted infections, seven are the frontline workers (three from Karonga, two from Mzimba North and one each from Blantyre and Mzimba South.
Saturday’s update had four frontline health care workers (two from Lilongwe and one each from Mulanje and Nkhata Bay).
Of the 107 new locally transmitted infections, 33 are from Blantyre, 16 from Lilongwe, 15 from Neno, 5 from Karonga, four from Zomba, three each from Mzimba North and Mzimba South and one from Kasungu.
The update adds that cumulatively Malawi has recorded 3,664 cases including 99 deaths and of these 946 are imported infections and 2,718 being local transmissions.
The average age of the cases is 36 years, the youngest being aged 1 month, the oldest is 93 years old while men top the list at 66%.
The country has so far conducted 27,147 COVID-19 tests in 39 testing sites.
In his report, Dr. Dzuka everyone has a role to play to reduce and contain the spread of the pandemic, which Dr. Chiudzu now adds voice to.
“COVID-19 is real,” says Dr. Chiudzu. “As a country, we need to adhere to the preventative measures of social distancing and use of masks if social distance is not possible, avoiding crowded places, and regular hand washing or sanitizing.
Asked if the country has managed the pandemic well since the alerts on COVID-19 were intensified, Dr. Chiudzu says “under the prevailing circumstances and challenges, the country has made efforts to advise and protect the society from the pandemic and offered timely treatment for those affected”.
“Before the upsurge of the cases, we should have handled better the people who were crossing borders into Malawi from high risk countries by applying strict quarantine measures.”
The Medical Association of Malawi (MAM) has several objectives which included Article III of its Constitution that says:
1. To promote matters of medical and scientific interests
2. To maintain honor and interests of the medical profession
3. To hold, organise or arrange for holding of regular medical and scientific meetings
4. To liaise, negotiate or deal with the Ministry of Health in matters connected with or affecting members of the medical profession
It is the only Medical Association recognised under the Medical Practitioners and Dentist Act of Malawi to nominate its members to sit on the Board.
It was formed on 20th March, 1980 with former President late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda designated as its Patron.
Dr. Chiudzu says MAM has three types of members as outlined in Article IV of its Constitution:
1. Ordinary Members – any person registered by Medical Council of Malawi as Medical practitioner or Dentist
2. Associate Member – any person serving in the senior paramedical capacity in Malawi
3. Honorary Member – any person (medical or non-medical) who has rendered distinguished service to the medical profession or Association
Dr. Chiudzu, a product of Kamuzu Academy who went on to attain her doctorate at College of Medicine in 1994 after 5 years of training in the UK (St Andrews University, Scotland and University of London St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London), has replaced Dr. Edgar Kuchingale.
Her specialty in this noble field is Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, obtained in South Africa.
During her one-year tenure, Dr. Chiudzu intends to resuscitate MAM, which has been dormant over the past years and make it visible again nationally aiming at inclusive membership.
She also wants to “create linkages with other medical professional associations both national and international and to institute professional development of members through continuous medical education.
There are several other medical associations available in the country that include Society of Medical Doctors (SMD) and Medical Doctors Union of Malawi (MDUM) with doctors as members.
And there is the Physicians Assistants Union of Malawi with paramedics (clinical officers and medical assistants) as members.
The full MAM committee membership has doctors Yotamu as vice-president, Boston Moyo as secretary, Lameck Chiunda as vice-secretary, Agnes Moses as treasurer and Uclid Sydney Magawa as vice-treasurer.
Committee members are doctors Rizine Zikamanda, Philliness Prisca Harawa, Beatrice Kasambwe, Benjamin Azaria Mosiwa and Chilungamo Khuwi.