Health advocates call for increased funds for essential drugs in Malawi hospitals

The Malawi Health Equity Network (MEHN), Oxfam and Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), have called for increased budget allocation for essential medicines amidst the Parliamentary mid-term budget review session.

Jobe: Blackouts are killing many

In a statement released by MEHN on Thursday, Executive Director George Jobe, says a survey done by health advocates across 8 districts with District Health Officers, and community members have painted a bleak picture of how drug shortages are impacting on people’s equitable access to health services.

The statement further says a woman from Ntcheu went to Champiti Health Centre for treatment of a bacterial infection but was told the hospital had run out of antibiotics. This forced her to sell some household items in order to buy the required medicine from a private pharmacy.

According to the statement, Ministry of Health (MoH) found that a number of districts in Malawi had overspent their allocations for funding for medicines and medical supplies by December 2016.

In an effort to correct the District Health Offices’ pattern of spending over their allocation, the MoH issued a directive in January this year that the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) cannot provide drugs to the districts without authorization from the Ministry.

“What is clear is that the overall budget allocation for drugs is simply not enough to ensure the provision of essential health services to all Malawians,” reads part of the statement.

The statement also has an analysis done by an MSF health economist based on drug stock out information in Nsanje District.

The analysis discovered that the budget required for drugs and medical supplies was nearly double what they had received.

MSF’s calculations based on the consumption method found that Nsanje District required MK 418.8 million for its drugs and medical supplies but for the 2016/17 budget they only received MK 236 million for the drug budget.

According to the statement, interviews with District Health Officers (DHOs) from the Central, Northern and Southern Regions have highlighted the negative impact inadequate funding for drugs is having at the health facility level.

DHOs report indicates that medicines including paracetamol, common antibiotics, diabetes and cancer drugs, urinary bags, anti-inflammatory, asthma medication and IV fluids are out of stock.

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