Ministry of Health promises great changes in 2018

Secretary for Health Dan Namarika has said there would be improvements in the way the ministry handles public money to ensure great
transparency and accountability than ever before.

Namarika: Promise changes

He said this in the capital Lilongwe  after a two day grilling by parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over K1 billion audit
query.

The uncompromising PAC members sent out Namarika from the meeting room on Wednesday afternoon following arguments and counterarguments which centred mainly on a K600 million audit query for missing money at Kamuzu  Central Hospital in Lilongwe.

“It was just an issue of misunderstanding. I met the auditor general and we have sorted out the issue,” said Namarika.

He however promised that come next year, there might be not even one audit query as he has put in place stringent measures to ensure
protection of public money.

Namarika said the ministry has since instituted a special unit to look into records and documents of payments and other expenditures for public money to ensure transparency and accountability.

PAC is looking at audit queries for 2012/13 financial year which showed money amounting to K600 million could not be accounted for at
Kamuzu Central Hospital.

After hours of grilling, it was discovered that the money was not necessarily stolen but it was rather lack of systematic filing system
that led to loss of supporting documents for purchases or payments.

However, most of the documents were found after the auditors brought the issue to the attention of authorities at the central hospital.

The PAC members were angry to see an audit query which showed that money amounting to K16.8 million for rentals for doctors houses went down the drain as the auditors could not trace the houses in question.

PAC vice chairman Kamlepo Kalua described this as cashgate.

However, Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa said his office managed to trace the houses after three attempts.

“The first time we went there, we couldn’t find the houses, on the second attempt, we couldn’t find them and it is the third time we
managed to trace the houses. We discovered that the hospital has a very poor inventory system. The hospital did not have names of doctors who replaced others as tenants in the houses,” said Kamphasa.

The audit report also queries excess payment of K19.5 million lucum, allowances for medical practitioners at Kamuzu Central Hospital
between February 2012 and October 2013.

However, Namarika said there was no overpayment, saying ceilings for locum allowances were made by the hospital management and they decided to break it because of shortage of staff which forced them to worklong hours.

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