No ‘freebies’: Malawi reintroduces paying services in public hospitals

Malawi government is reintroducing paying for the provision of health service in the country in order to improve on its delivery, Principal Secretary for Ministry of Health Charles Mwansambo has confirmed.

Executive Director for the Malawi Health Equity network (MHEN) Martha Kwataine recently suggested the move during a public debate which was aimed at exploring and discussing several challenges that the health delivery system is currently facing in the country owing to the changes in the political, socio and economic landscape in the past twelve months.

Kwataine suggested that it would be proper if Malawians started paying for services in all public health institutions.

Mwansambo said government will reintroduce the paying services and that funds rose “will be used to improve the facilities and provide better services.”

Mwansambo: Ministry of Health has decided to reintroduce paying wards and services in the country’s public health facilities
Mwansambo: Ministry of Health has decided to reintroduce paying wards and services in the country’s public health facilities

He said the pricing structure for the facilities will be guided by the Ministry of Health headquarters depending on the cost of delivery of a particular service.

Mwansambo said ministry of health had discussions with directors of different public hospitals and also the Ministry of Finance on the reintroduction of the paying services and wards.

Kwataine welcomed the move for people to start paying for health services, saying it will help abate drug shortage.

Official reports indicate that the instability of drug supply at country health facilities is resultant of influx of patients from neighbouring accessing free drugs at the health centres, who run away from paying for medicine at the public health facilities in their countries.

“During a recent visit to Nsanje District Hospital, for example, it was indicated that 40 percent of patients that access health care in the district are Mozambicans. While the ministry of Health is accepting this observation, they are blaming the memorandum of understanding which is in favour of the neighbouring countries,” Kwataine on record to have said.

Meanwhile, Malawi’s flagship daily newspaper, The Nation said in its editorial comment on Monday that government should put in place measures that would ensure money made from the paying services and wards at public health institutions indeed goes towards improving delivery of health services “and not towards enriching people who only care about their pockets even where they put a number of lives at risk.”

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