Malawi Parliament Tuesday allowed Government to borrow from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) Fund for International Development $13.1 million (about K5.3 billion) for purposes of constructing the National Cancer Centre in Lilongwe.
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe told the House that would be constructed next to College of Medicine in Blantyre, not Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), claiming that the ‘principles’ of the loanfelt the centre be constructed adjacent to a medical school.
But this did not go down well most members including the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health (PCH), Julian Lunguzi who vehemently challenged Gondwe’s assertions.
Lunguzi argued that Opec Fund did not dictate such a requirement in its Memorandum of Understanding with the government.
Most MPs argued that Lilongwe was more ideal for the Cancer Centre because there more specialist medical doctors at KCH where University of North Calorina is supporting pathology services for free while in Blantyre, they are provided by College of Medicine and Mwaiwanthu Priavte Hospital at a fee.
After a lengthy and constructive debate, MPs passed the loan bill as the House agreed to have the Cancer Centre be constructed in Lilongwe.
According to Finance Minister, when the centre is constructed, government would save K480 million a year which is spent on cancer patients’ referrals outside the country.
Gondwe said centre will adversely reduce the amount money government spends on cancer patients.
The Finance Minister disclosed that on average government spend US $30,000 per patient receiving radiotherapy treatment.
“On average Malawi sends over 40 cancer patients abroad for treatment which translate to K480 million per year. This amount does not include patients who pay for themselves or those supported by insurance companies. These figures also exclude airfares and accommodation costs,” said Gondwe.