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.
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.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :