Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Malawi working in the Public Health and HIV and AIDS Management Sector on Friday marched to Parliament to present their grievances on what they called ‘the persistently inadequate’ national budget allocation to the health sector and in the process calling for a 15% allocation.
The grouping, which included organizations like CHRR, NAPHAM, MANETT, CEDEP, COWLHA, MANERA and others, presented its five paged petition titled “Concerned Civil Society Organisations’ petition to MPs on Budget Allocation to Health and HIV and AIDs” at new parliament buildings in Lilongwe through Parliament’s Health committee chairperson Paul Chibingu.
The move is in line with the House’s Standing Order 46 that requires that any petitioner to the august House should identify a member who can take the petition on behalf of the petitioner to the members of Parliament.
“We, concerned civil society organisations in Malawi working in the Public Health and HIV and AIDs Management Sector call for the immediate review and action by Members of Parliament (MPs) on the persistently inadequate National Budget allocation to the Health Sector,” reads part of the petition.
These CSOs appeal to MPs to take a ‘hard look’ at the underfunding of the health sector, which according to the grouping, has both short term and long term grave repercussions on the lives of their constituents and the citizenry of Malawi at large.
The organizations hence urges MPs to persuade the government through the Minister of Finance to realign the national budget and effect a new allocation of 15% to the health sector instead of the current 12% which is far from meeting several needs accumulated in the sector due to tough economic times the country has gone through during these recent months.
“We ultimately hope that our efforts will move the legislators to impress upon the minister of Finance to realign the national budget and allocate funds –even if it means redirecting money from within the current resource envelop such as taking part of the K33 billion earmarked for local travel in FY2013/14- national health sector which is currently looking bleak and unable to constructively strenghthen the Malawi health system”, reads part of the petition presented by the grouping representative Gift Trapence of CEDEP.
The petition further argues that some of the resources in order to meet the proposed 15% allocation to the health sector should be sourced from the budgetary allocation of the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) which according to the grouping has proved beyond reasonable doubt to be a political tool for amassing votes from electorate.
“We believe that other resources should come from the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) which is increasingly becoming inefficient, nepotistic and fertile ground for corruption as well as a gravy train for political bootlickers, ruling party financiers and a campaign tool masquerading as pro-poor welfare initiative” reads the statement signed by 10 CSOs.
Chibingu said he would personally read the petition and will then take it into Parliament.