The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said it has decided to have the National Cancer Centre built in Blantyre rather than Lilongwe as earlier communicated because the ‘principles’ of the loan, Opec Fund for International Development, felt the centre be constructed adjacent to a medical school.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe justified the decision on Wednesday in parliament as the relocation did not go down well with the MPs.
Gondwe was forced to refer the Loan Authorisation Bill for $13.1 million (about K5.3 billion) to the Health Committee of Parliament.
Chairperson of the Health Committee, Juliana Lunguzi, read out Standing Order 125 (3) which requires a committee to scrutinise a bill first before tabling it in Parliament.
“Our standing orders are clear that before any bill is brought before the House it is first sent to a relevant committee. As chairperson of committee on health, I’m hearing of the technical changes for the first time,” said Lunguzi who is Dedza East MP from Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire (Peoples Party) also noted that the bill Gondwe brought to the House was not the original one as gazetted in July 2014 because the location was different.
Mangochi Monkey Bay MP Ralph Jooma (People’s Party) said following the change in location for the cancer centre, there was need for the MPs to consult their constituents first.
Said Jooma: “The bill gazetted on 4th July  is different from the one presented today. We cannot go into debate because the bill has capitally changed.”
Karonga Central MP Frank Mwenifumbo, brandishing a copy of the bill, said: “This bill is talking about Lilongwe [cancer centre location], but the one presented is talking about Blantyre.”
Tabling the bill, Gondwe told the House that government would save K480 million a year which is spent on cancer patients’ referrals outside the country.
.Gondwe told the House that once the centre is constructed it will adversely reduce the amount money government spends on cancer patients.
“I would like to inform this house that on average we spend US $30,000 per patient receiving radiotherapy treatment. On average Malawi sends over 40 cancer patients abroad for treatment which translate to K480 million per year. This amount does not include patients who pay for themselves or those supported by insurance companies. These figures also exclude airfares and accommodation costs,” said Gondwe.
The bill was referred to the health committee.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :