Malawi expanding health care provision, Muluzi tells World Assembly

Minister of Health and Population, Atupele Muluzi MP has said  Malawi government launched the Health Sector Strategic Plan (2017-2022)—a roadmap towards health financing reforms to make universal health coverage (UHC) a reality.

Atupele Muluzi representing Malawi government at World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
Atupele Muluzi: Malawi towards universal health coverage

World Health Organisation (WHO) defines UHC as a situation where all people receive the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship.

Muluzi who was speaking in his address during plenary opening of the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said the health sector strategic plan seeks to achieve universal health coverage of quality, equitable and affordable health care with the aim of improving health status, financial risk protection and client satisfaction.

Muluzi told the assembly that during the development of the strategy, government assessed bottlenecks to increasing coverage of essential health package and then used the analysis to compare the value of allocating limited resources to direct health care interventions versus health systems strengthening activities meant to address the bottlenecks.

“This approach has ensured that we optimize investments in both direct health care and value for money; this is extremely important given the large element of foreign donor support that our health sector receives,” he said.

Muluzi said  most individuals and households, an important determinant of whether or not they access health services is access to healthcare professionals within walking distance.

The proportion of population living within 8 km radius of health facility in Malawi was estimated at 76% in 2016.

Muluzi said: “Having identified these underserved communities through a comprehensive nationwide mapping of all health service delivery points we have developed a scheme to expand outreach clinics; construct new facilities or rehabilitate existing health infrastructure.  It is a plan and we are not there yet, but the plan is acting as a solid handrail as we move forwards.”

He said achieving UHC is largely dependent on the level and quality of human resources for health, pointing out that in Malawi, there are many challenges not leastthe  rapidly increasing population.

“This means we are having to take a very difficult look at the discrepancy between our existing establishment of trained staff and the numbers that satisfy the actual need; the inequitable distribution of available staff across levels of care, districts and of course the rural locations versus urban. This has been compounded by a declining quality of health training because of a lack of or poor quality of internships for health workers due to inadequate qualified supervisors,”  he said

One of UHC advocates, Dr. Themba Nyirenda says achieving UHC needs concerted efforts from government, donors, private sector and the civil society.

Muluzi also received a petition on behalf of all Health Ministers World Wide signed by more than 150,000 from almost 200 countries, demanding global action to prevent 7000 newborn deaths that occur every single day.

In the petition they are calling for quality services which are accessible and affordable. Services delivered with respect and dignity. Services that reach the poorest and most marginalized in every country around the world.

Minister Muluzi after receiving the petition on behalf of all Ministers of Health stated that ” No women should die if something can be done within our power. No new born should die when we can do something.”

He committed that Malawi will provide the political leadership required for quality care, within the opportune moment, when we are all working towards achieving University Health Coverage.

Later, Muluzi Co-Chaired a high level meeting of Ministers, Ambassadors, Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations, calling on strong partnerships and strong community engagements. The event was graced by Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO and Former President Dr. Michelle Bachelet of Chili, Chair of the PMNCH.

Malawi has been hailed and recognized for its strong leadership and as a country that has achieved great successes in reducing newborn and child mortality in a relatively short period.

This year’s theme for the World Health Assembly of “Health for All: Commit to Universal Health Coverage” is extremely befitting as all UN Member States seek to try to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, as part of their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

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