Activist warns Malawi govt on hospital fees: ‘Tread carefully on public health sector reforms’

A vocal activist in the public health sector, Maziko Matemba has warned government to tread carefully on public health reform program, saying they should not hurt the poor.

Maziko Matemba, executive director of the Health and Rights Education Programme, Malawi

Maziko Matemba, executive director of the Health and Rights Education Programme, Malawi

Matemba was part of the high level meeting of government, donors and other health stakeholders.

He said suggestions to introduce fees in hospitals would harm the majority poor.

Malawi government has proposed a set of reforms for the health sector, among them the establishment of a health fund where it proposes visa fees, health-risk taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, health value-added tax (VAT), corporate health tax and fuel health levy to get additional revenue for the sector.

These proposed tax measures are expected to be sent to Cabinet before a bill on health is drafted and presented to Parliament for approval consideration. The bill would also propose the appointment of a board and management team for the fund.

Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who chairs the Public Service Reforms Commission (PSRC), said government should seriously explore ways of ensuring that everyone with the ability to pay contributes to financing of the Essential Health Package while keeping out-of-pocket payments as low as possible.

Principal Secretary in the ministry of Health MacPheralal Magwira backed vice president Chilima that the public health sector needs an on overhaul.

He said Malawi is the only country in the region where medicine is free in public hospitals.

“We are working at how we can approach thus,” said Magwira.

Malawi is increasingly facing a collapsing health public sector since donors withdrew aid. The country is facing a $1.3 billion (about K600 billion) deficit in the health sector between 2014 and 2016.

Chilima said it was not a secret that the health sector was facing many challenges, among them the silent threat of rapid population growth which has exerted pressure on these inadequate public resources.

He said goal of the Malawi Government, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, is “to ensure universal health coverage.”

But to achieve this, Chilima said Malawi government will need “concerted aggressive efforts like we are doing as well as to increase our domestic revenue base from which we can finance health care.”

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Shulushulu
Guest

If Politicians were corrupt free, there wasnt a problem. Malawi’s economy would be improved. But since our leaders are so selfish ande very stupid, ndalama zimenezi zidzalowa mnthumba la wina. Ndalamazi sizizapindulira dziko koma anthu ochepa andale.

Mbiri
Guest

Some of these NGOs really derail development. This fool really believes we should continue giving free medicines and services? That is just rewarding lazy people for being stupid. Most of the poor people you claim to be advocating for are poor by choice anyway! Look…most Malawians have no income, are able bodied, have many children, don’t want to work but want handouts, cuts trees everyday and you want my hard earned money which is taxed to pay for their medicine as well?

Nansani wa chingoni
Guest

A lot of poor people pay already e.g in rural areas with only Mission hospitals, I see no issue with this move!

Ngalamayi
Guest
How can a government even think of charging for medical services when so many of its population live below the poverty line? If this government were also to develop a real welfare system, the population would have to confidence to reduce the number of children they have to look after them in their old age, knowing their children would have access to medical facilities and would stand a better chance of reaching adulthood themselves. Oh.. sorry… forgot! This government thinks sending large numbers of ‘envoys’ to expensive summits overseas, huge presidential cavalcades, are more important than the welfare of its… Read more »
Janjaweed
Guest

It is disgusting! paying taxes on everything we do, but the money goes into pockets of the very few in the name of cashgate, introducing fees in hosipitals will make the berries of cashgate fanatics grow even bigger.

choka phiri
Guest
If Malawi felt to secure donors and tax payers money How are they going to secure hospital money. City Essembly can not secure city rates we pay. Look at city of LL. Bins are not picked. NO drainage outside houses. NO Street lights despite LL being Capita City. Where our6tax money go. Where our city rates go. There will be this question when The hospital payment will be introduce and not medicines. NO one trust Malawi government or people resiponsible to work with money. Good talking good idea but practicaly Nothing is good. Lets wait for good Malawians that is… Read more »
choka phiri
Guest

Tonde. Richard people will not go to government hospitals despite paying. U What The wont have good beds or factities. Its poor people who will still go to public hospitals. Most highly government will still go to South Africa. Paying tax money. Believe me.

choka phiri
Guest
How many people Who eran an income in Malawiits good idea in a country where there are Jobs. Most elderly will get paid by their children Who earn very little. What about those Who dont? Malawi can not compare with other countries. Malawi should look itself. If it was not for corruption and Cash gates we Wold not have ended up here. My question is there any quarante that the system of paying will work. Is money going to be handled well? Malawians to Day can not afford to eat properly. Donald medicines are stolen by those should handledare The… Read more »
Janjaweed
Guest
Introduction of payments in hosipitals is un called for thing, what do you want to do with a poor Malawian who has to struggle with feeding up to six children, with a bag of maize bought @ mk10000, pay for their their school fees, the same person is being taxed in everything he buyes, so should you add an extra burden by making him pay for hospital services. Let us try to be genuin by not copying what other countries are doing, they have there own system of playing around with tax system or else you will masacre the poor… Read more »
Victor Jumbo
Guest
Malawi is one of the poorest country in the world with a big population. 51% of the population are illiterate with little or no jobs at all. 49% of the population are literate but not all of them are in jobs that satisfies or meet their needs. Many of hard working people lives on a less than a dollar per day. Which means it’s hands to mouth for the majority. Possibly, this one of the reasons why corruption is rampant in Malawi at present. People are trying to survive day by day because the jobs that they do are not… Read more »
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