Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) 2017/18 health sector budget findings have revealed that power outages and underfunding are greatly crippling the health sector in Malawi.
The development was disclosed on Wednesday at an interface meeting of MHEN findings of the 2017/18 health sector budget analysis for selected districts of Balaka, Zomba, Machinga, Dedza and Nkhata Bay at Lilongwe Hotel.
The interface meeting attracted members of Parliamentary Committee on Health, Ministry of Health, civil society organisations, the media and various stakeholders. It was aimed at analyzing budget allocations in the health sector for the 2017/18 fiscal year.
The Program Manager for MHEN, Davies Mwachumu, said the country was at risk of losing approximately US$13million, which is equivalent to K9.5 billion worth of vaccines due to prolonged blackouts.
Mwachumu observed that the national vaccine store is run by a 50KVA generator which supplies power to both the central region and national vaccine stores saying that with the current trend of power outages, the generator is consuming at least 2.7 litres of fuel per hour and runs for 12 hours per day.
“Cumulatively, 230 litres are consumed in a week, a value of MK187, 611.00 and by projection, the generator requires at least MK 9 million per year against MK 1 million allocated in the vaccine store for fuel in 2017/18 Fiscal year,” said Mwachumu.
He further said if the current trend of power outages persists, on average 566, 530 children are at risk of contracting various illnesses due to pending stock outs of vaccines and added that as a result several preventable disease outbreaks such as measles and polio are likely to occur.
MHEN Executive Director, George Jobe, said the health sector is the 3rd largest vote in terms of allocations with nearly MK 129 billion, representing over 9.9 per cent of the total budget, up from 8 per cent in the 2016/17 fiscal year.
Jobe, however, said the provision still falls short of the 15 per cent budgetary share as recommended under the Abuja Declaration to ensure minimum health services provision.
“Under threat is the welfare of poor women and children that mostly depend on free medication provided by public health facilities,” said Jobe.
For example, he observed that Zomba District Health Office (DHO) was allocated MK3.3 billion but was given MK 359.7 million because of the ceiling given. The amount meant that each person had received MK 427.00 on health in the district.
“The findings are intended to support key stakeholders such as Members of Parliament, Ministry of Health, other government ministries and agencies, development partners and civil society organisations working in the health sector to engage with evidence on budget scrutiny, support, monitoring and tracking for attainment of improved health outcomes,” said Jobe.
Vice chairperson for Parliamentary Committee on Health, Victor Musowa who is also Mulanje Bale Legislator hailed MHEN for the findings and assured people that the issue would be taken to Parliament saying there was need for another budget to address the challenges.
He said recently, his committee visited some district health offices where it was revealed that the generators the district were using were either too big to sustain or not sufficient at all.
MHEN is an alliance of civil society organizations, individuals, professionals and associations interested in promoting equitable access to quality health care services for all Malawians.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :