‘We put sanitiser on top of the blood’: what a lack of water means for midwives in Malawi!

Eunice Kalimbira’s hospital in Malawi has no water supply for days, and due to this obstetricians, cannot wash the blood after helping pregnant women give birth. They are using the mattress as sanitary napkins, and sanitizer is more valuable than blood.

All the midwives in the hospitals apply sanitizer on the hands, thinking that they could prevent the mother and child from getting infected. Ms. Kalimbira, who works at Ntchisi District Hospital in central Malawi, is one of those workers who choose to do this every day.

Millions of workers in Malawi are running without water supply and need sanitizers more than ever. According to the WaterAid foundation, one out of four healthcare workers do not have access to a clean water site, and one out of three has no place to wash their hands after the delivery. Another shocking thing is that one out of ten lack clean toilets and sanitary products.

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries that do not have clean drinking water with proper water facilities for anything. And the pandemic has put the risk on workers who have to wash their hands regularly to avoid infections.

Sanitizers and washing hands is the need of the hour but, in a country like Malawi risk of infections is more than in other countries. “We need thorough hand washing in our line of duty,” Eunice said. “With no water, we can’t wash our hands. At the moment, we use the hand sanitisers but at some point, you still need water, especially where you have to get rid of blood.”

She is a health worker and says that the risk is partially less, due to more usage of sanitizers, but water is a basic necessity.

“Instead of patients getting help from this clinic, they are getting infections. Simply because we have no running water,” she said.
Millions of mothers and children die globally due to new infections and a lack of soap and water. Using soap and water can prevent getting infection easily and is more effective than sanitizers.


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