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Mzuzu, November 12, 2020: First Lady, Madam Monica Chakwera, through her charity organisation ‘Shaping our Future Foundation’ on Monday donated 50,000 face masks to Nkhata Bay District Hospital and its health centres to complement the COVID-19 fight in the district.

Speaking at Nkhata Bay District Hospital premises, the first lady said the gesture is in a bid to contain further spread of Coronavirus among health workers in the line of duty.

She commended health workers for working tirelessly despite limited resources even amid the fight against Coronavirus.

“You are our heroes and what you accomplish is much more. I know how hard you people work and give yourself to provide for patients. You are working hard in challenging situations to combat the pandemic,” she said.

She said government will work hard to provide enough equipment and resources in health facilities to improve health service delivery and achieve access to quality health services.

“We desire to see a motivated health work force and we will provide conducive working environment for health workers in the country,” she said.

The First Lady then commended Nkhata Bay District Hospital for various reforms the hospital is undertaking to improve service delivery and generation of income.

She also donated assorted items to 40 children at the Paediatric Ward.

Minister of Health, Khumbize Chiponda commended the First Lady for the donation, saying COVID-19 did not spare health workers as out of 184 people who have died of the disease, three are health workers.

Khumbize, therefore, reminded Malawians that the pandemic is not yet over and encouraged people to continue observing COVID-19 preventive measures such as wearing masks and observing social distance.

Director of Health and Social Services at Nkhata Bay District Council, Dr Mwatikonda Mbendera, while commending First Lady Chakwera for the donation, said the district registered 196 positive cases with two deaths.

He said of the 196 cases, 22 were health workers, which shows how vulnerable health workers are to the pandemic. He said the face masks donated would go a long way to assist them in controlling spread of the disease.

“Much as COVID-19 pandemic affected health service delivery, health workers have worked tirelessly day and night to contain the virus and in 25 days, we have not registered any new case,” he said.

Dr Mbendera said the pandemic affected the district in various ways such as increased early marriages, teenage pregnancies and reduced health seeking behaviour.

“Since April this year to November, we have registered 135 early marriages unlike 88 which were registered the whole of last year,” he said.

He also disclosed that the hospital was undertaking various reforms to improve service delivery such as introducing paying wards, fish ponds and vegetable garden among others.

The hospital also plans to install underground water systems in all the health facilities in the district which will cost K I33 million to reduce utility bills, according to Dr Mbendera.

However, he said the hospital faces mobility challenges as they only have two fully functional ambulances.

Nkhata Bay District Hospital was opened in 2016, has 455 beds, serves  316,000 people and has 21 health centres.