This report discusses the wish of Andiamo Youth Cooperative Trust (AYCT) to promote Comfort Clinics to Comfort Community Hospital following developments that have taken place ever since Comfort Clinics opened their doors in the late 90s.
Comfort Clinics opened its doors on 21 May 1997. This was the time before Balaka was declared a district by the then president Dr. Bakili Muluzi. Andiamo Youth Cooperative Trust under the leadership of Father Mario Pacifici, a Montfort Father’s, decided to open the clinics having seen that the population was too big for the available health facilities in the district. The clinics were meant to serve at least people surrounding the catchment area to at least access to treatment without walking long distances with a reasonable charge.
To achieve this, Comfort Clinics opened different departments to cater for everybody. Comfort Clinics opened an Out Patient Department (OPD), Dental Department and more recently the Maternity wing. Comfort Clinics has been an affiliate of CHAM since 1998 and Andiamo Youth Cooperative Trust in collaboration with St. Louis Montfort Catholic Parish of Mangochi diocese only provides the facilities that benefit the community.
Comfort Clinics: 1997 to present time
As has been discussed above, at the mean time, Comfort Clinics has three functional departments namely: Out Patient Department (OPD); Dental Department; and the Maternity Department.
Out Patient Department
This department covers the whole district of Balaka and it still treats other patients from the surrounding districts. The average number of patients visiting the facility is around 2,500 a month. This translates to almost 30,000 a year.
This department treats patients from Balaka and some patient’s come as far as Blantyre, Lilongwe, Salima, Dedza and Zomba. The average number of patients visiting the facility is 400 a month and 5000, a year.
This is perhaps one of the busiest departments of Comfort Clinics. AYCT built Comfort maternity wing in 2008 with the aim of reducing maternal deaths for expecting mothers. The idea of having this wing came about after noticing that many women were dying during and after giving birth through Tradition Birth Attendants in the villages, a thing which was putting lives of women and the unborn children at risk. Due to the congestion at paediatric ward at Balaka district hospital, Comfort Clinics management decided to use two of its rooms as paediatric ward before a special ward was built in 2011. The department has state of art facilities and it has helped many women from both the surrounding areas and neighbouring districts. Since it was opened, it has treated its patients free of charge. As of last year 2011, the department admitted 1000 patients.
This was built in 2011 after seeing the congestion at Balaka District Hospital. The ward has a capacity of 18 beds and as of now it is fully furnished. The Medical Council of Malawi inspected the facility following the letter that was written to them on 8 November 2011 with a copy to the Executive Director of CHAM and The DHO of Balaka District Hospital. Having been satisfied after the inspection, the Medical Council of Malawi recommended it.
Male and Female Wards
In April 2012 AYCT also finished building both the male and female wards, which have a capacity of 36 beds. Both wards are furnished. Both paediatric and community hospital have been built with financial support from Project Malawi.
Balaka has one district hospital as of now. A visit to the district hospital has revealed that there is congestion of patients beyond telling. The elevation of Comfort Clinics to a Community Hospital will ease the pressure exerted on the government hospital. We believe that once Comfort Clinics becomes a community hospital the government hospital will also be able to refer some of its patients to it, they way the are doing now with maternity cases.