Veep hails drug supplies, tears apart Quota System

State Vice President Joyce Banda has hailed international donors for the recent consignment of various drugs, saying it would go along way to alleviate the acute shortage of medical supplies in public hospitals.

On Monday, Malawi received the first of a USD 33 million consignment of primary health care essential drugs under the Essential Drugs Project being implemented with support from the governments of United Kingdom, Germany and Norway.

The United Kingdom, Norway, and Germany had recently announced a grant of USD 33 million for emergency procurement of selected essential primary health care medicines and supplies for Malawi.

Vice President Banda

The aim of the grant is to avert shortages of essential drugs over the next 18 months and to ensure that the downward trend in morbidity and mortality among children and pregnant women is maintained.

UNICEF will procure the medicines in two phases, with the first already delivered this month, January 2012. USAID through the DELIVER PROJECT will manage in-country storage and distribution of the medicines to as many as 620 hospitals and health centres throughout the country.

“I want to sincerely thank our international partners for this gesture; our drugs shortage situation was getting out of hand,” Banda, who is also the founding leader of the People’s Party (PP), told supporters on Thursday at the party’s headquarters in Blantyre .

Concerns

However, Banda bemoaned intermittent power supply, which she said had led to mothers giving “under candlelight”.

Meanwhile, Banda has torn apart the quota system of selecting students into the University of Malawi saying it disadvantaged deserving and intelligent students “just because they hail for a particular region or district”.

Speaking exclusively to Nyasa Times on Thursday at her official Mudi Residence, Banda said the only way to achieve equitable distribution of university places is to increase bed and class space “which has remained the same since the university’s inception”.

Banda said it was ridiculous that a country that got its independence in 1964 can still have a university intake of less than 2,000 students, saying government ought to move quickly to improve the trend if it were to be seen to be serious about national development.

She recalled that when Dr. (Kamuzu) Banda took power, he engaged the churches and asked them to take into their mission secondary schools students that were not able to make it into public secondary schools.

“The arrangement was that government would subsidize the cost of keeping these students in mission secondary schools and that worked wonders. That is how some of us got educated,” the VP said, adding the same arrangement could be made with private universities in Malawi and the many students that failed to make it into University of Malawi due to shortage of space could have training opportunity.

“We have many universities around and what they lack is capacity to accommodate many students; they ought to be given that capacity through government subsidy and I am certain they would jump on that opportunity,” explained Banda, popularly referred to as ‘JB’ by her adorers.

The first woman state Vice President in Malawi also bemoaned the unfriendly living environment for non-residential students at Chancellor College, saying most of them are “living in Chikanda”, which is boisterous.

“In other countries, governments value education to the level that they would follow and support an intelligent student until they graduate because they know that this student will be an engineer; chemist; pilot and therefore an asset vital for the economic development of their nation.

“You do not deny intelligent students university education at the pretext of equitable distribution of university places; no, education is a right enshrined in the Republican Constitution and denying people education based on where they come from is unconstitutional and therefore unacceptable,” the VP said.

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