MPs shocked with NCDs gravity amidst shortage in funding

Members of Parliament (MPs) sitting on Parliamentary Committee on Health and Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday could not help, but simply confess that Malawi is not doing well on the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

The lawmakers made the confession in reaction to the presentation NCD Alliance Chairperson Maud Mwakasungula made during an interface meeting with people living with NCDs and legislators on strengthening NCD financing and budget allocations.

Mwakasungula making a presentation to the MPs during the interface meeting on Wednesday night–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu.

NCDs are the leading cause of death globally, with the majority being cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, or diabetes.

However, the Government of Malawi has, over the years, failed to give priority to the sector, with this year receiving a meagre K700 million allocation.

Mwakasungula emphasized that financing NCDs is vital as it is cross-cutting into all of the sectors of Malawi from agriculture, health, transport, food security and all other sectors.

Dr. Ngwale moderating the plenary session–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

“This is why donors in Malawi need to put NCD financing a top priority, including supporting development of an NCDs investment case. We have seen persistent stock-outs of NCD drugs and a lack of dialysis machines in public hospitals in the country, which has always been a concern,” she added.

She said this is why the alliance decided to conduct a meeting to build a platform for dialogue on transforming NCD financing as a critical part of achieving sustainable development goals.

Mwakasungula pleaded with the Malawi Parliament to seriously consider setting up a Parliamentary Caucus on NCDs as a matter of urgency if the country is to tame the scourge.

One of the MPs present, Euriter Valeta, testified that she coughed over K7 million to get her relation treated for an NCD.

Valeta therefore agreed with Mwakasungula that the K700 million allocation is simply a drop in an ocean.

Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Dr. Matthews Ngwale, admitted that there are gaps in NCD financing.

Ngwale described the interface meeting as a revelation to them as it provided them a platform to hear for themselves what persons living with the medical conditions are going through.

“We felt good listening to people raise all their concerns, and it is clear that we haven’t been giving them our full attention because we normally concentrate on diseases that affect the majority of people, leaving out NCDs. We will go back to parliament and present everything that has been shared here and possibly lobby for more funds to address NCDs,” he assured.

NCD Alliance is implementing a project titled ‘Strengthening of NCD Financing’ with the aim of building efforts to expand its advocacy reach, build alliances and partnerships through mobilization, collaboration, and networking with various stakeholders, including government, NGOs, CSOs, and donor partners in addressing NCDs with a special focus on NCD financing.

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