Malawi far from achieving Abuja Declaration on health financing

Malawi is among countries racing against time to achieve the Abuja Declaration, which rallies States and governments to commit 15 percent of their national budgets towards health financing.

Malawi is currently crawling four percent less on the agreed ceiling on health financing, a development the Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Population, Dr. Matthews Ngwale, has since described as worrisome.

Ngwale made the sentiments during a panel discussion the National Planning Commission organized in collaboration with the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) and the Copenhagen Consensus Centre (CCC) on Friday evening.

Dube (second from left) articulating issues during the panel discussion on Friday evening–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The discussion was held under the theme: ‘How to create better health outcomes through prioritized policy interventions in Malawi!’, and was organized under the Malawi Priorities Project – a research-based collaborative project, which aims to identify and promote the most effective interventions that address Malawi’s development challenges and support the attainment of its development aspirations.

The project seeks to provide the government with a systematic process to help prioritize the most effective policy solutions to maximize social, environmental and economic benefits on every kwacha invested.

Dube (second from left) articulating issues during the panel discussion on Friday evening as NPC Director General Dr. Thomas Munthali and Ngwale look on–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Other panellists were NPC Director General Dr. Thomas Chataghalala Munthali, Dr. Adamson Muula, Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Population, Dr. Queen Dube, and Dr. Mangani Katundu of Chancellor College and World Health Country Preparedness International Health Regulation Officer Dr. Gertrude Chapotera, among others.

In his contribution, Ngwale said it is sad that Malawi continues to depend on development partners to finance her health sector.

“Development partners are contributing 70 percent of our total budget for the health sector. Of course, we applaud the development partners for this as Malawi is already overtaxed. But still more, we need to do something to finance our health sector and this is the subject we need to take as a matter of national importance,” he said.

Ngwale wondered whether it is time Malawi had introduced fees in public health facilities to address fiscal inadequacies.

The Chief of Health Services, Dr. Dube, admitted that the quality of service remains a big challenge in the country’s public health facilities.

She challenged the players to devise tangible mechanisms for addressing challenges suffocating the health sector.

“We need to embrace a multifaceted approaching in addressing challenges in the health sector. One thing I have noted is that while we are promoting sexual and reproductive health rights among girls, we are leaving boys behind. I feel we should not leave the boy behind because he is the one who will impregnate the girl. We also need to engage traditional leaders so that they can start initiating debate on family planning in their localities,” said Dube.

NPC Director of Knowledge and Learning Dr. Joseph Nagoli said the discussion was organized to initiate debate on what Malawi needs to do to revitalize her ailing health sector.

Nagoli stated that the Commission would continue engaging various stakeholders on the issue in order to inspire improvement in the sector.

For decades, local health rights activists have been lamenting that inadequate funding is compromising quality of service in public health facilities in Malawi.

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