When you are involved in an accident or someone has assaulted you and you rush to the hospital to seek medical attention, the standard practice in Malawian hospitals has been to demand from the patient a police report before the medical practitioners commence treatment.
This practice has now been abolished thanks to a circular released by Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Charles Mwansambo who has intimated that the practise is “discriminatory” and unconstitutional as it negates the right to life and privacy which are guaranteed in the constitution.
In banning the practice, Mwansambo says the “the practice also has the potential to endanger lives of the people who may require immediate medical assistance to survive. Should death occur due to delays to offer medical assistance, medical practitioners may be involved to civil or criminal law sanctions for breaching their duty to preserve life and may vicariously attract liability on the government.”
Mwansambo in the statement stated that it was against such a background that his office is directing “that effective immediately the requirement to first obtain a police report before accessing health care/medical assistance shall not be mandatory.” He stated differently that “people are entitled to report to police, but they shall not be deprived the right to access health care should they not first report to police and present a police report.”