The K65.2 billion 2014/2015 budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Health has worried officials at the Malawi Health Equity Network-MHEN, who have since urged Members of Parliament to consider channelling some of the funds from the Farm Input Subsidy Program-FISP to the health sector.
Presenting the budget in Parliament Tuesday afternoon, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe acknowledged the deficit, but banked his hopes on donors who bankroll most projects in the sector.
“The Ministry of Health attracts a lot of off budget support from donors. For example, the bulk of our drug requirements is now supplied directly by the DfID and other donors. Expenditure on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is almost entirely covered by the Global Fund, ‘ said Gondwe.
But, speaking to Malawi News Agency in an interview, Malawi Health Equity Network-MHEN Executive Director, Martha Kwataine, said the allocation was ‘very low’, arguing it was far below the 15 percent recommended by the Abuja Declaration.
While admitting that it was difficult for the health budget to go up every year especially with the current economic woes, Kwataine said it was rather unsafe to bank on donors to cover the rest of the health costs.
She then suggested that some funds from the Farm Input Subsidy Program-FISP be channelled to the sector. FISP is estimated at K50.8 billion targeting 1.5 million beneficiaries.
”Our problems are far from ending. Why not get money from FISP and then channel them to the health sector, and I hope our MPs will consider this. We can only now pray that donors continue supporting the sector,” Kwataine said.
The K65.2 billion health budget, which represents 8.8 percent of the total national budget includes allocations to the Ministry of Health, District Councils and National AIDS Commission.
The capital budget allocation is K14.4 billion and is meant for the construction of staff houses and health centres under Umoyo project, the construction of new hospitals in Phalombe, Nkhata Bay and Dowa Districts as well as other community hospitals.
The total 2014/2015 budget is estimated at 742.8 billion kwacha.