British High Commissioner Holly Tett says corruption and theft in the health sector are eroding the gains the country has made, preventing poor and vulnerable people from benefiting from investments made over the years.
Tett, speaking in an interview on the sidelines of Nation Publications Limited (NPL) Mother’s Fun Run event at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre on Saturday, said corruption is an issue cutting across all sectors in Malawi and the United Kingdom (UK) has raised the matter with government on a number of occasions.
She said: “I think we made our points clear that there are things that need to be done. We need to make sure that there are absolutely no sacred cows.
“We need to make sure that the institutions that cover corruption such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau [ACB] are properly resourced and that the appointment process for people at the top of such organisations is transparent and we need to work together to make sure that all the systems are in place.
“Obviously, drugs is one area and the distribution of drugs has been known to be open to corruption. We are working close with the Ministry of Health to try to crack down on that so that the drugs end with the people they are supposed to go to, which are the patients.”
And while commending efforts the country is making to fight corruption, including President Peter Mutharika stressing that he wants to stamp out corruption and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs holding a stakeholders’ conference on corruption mid this year, Tett said there is always more that can be done.
Blantyre district health officer (DHO) Dr Medson Matchaya, speaking in an interview, said that when it comes to ensuring that resources go to the intended people, government is trying its best.
He said: “Government introduced the electronic management of our resources. The process is there and it requires all levels to be met. Therefore, nobody can really mess up until all these processes have been gone through, starting with participation of the community itself to health workers and other controlling officers and the final signatories.”
In recent years, Malawi’s public health sector has been hit by cases of drug theft and pilferage with drugs and medical supplies valued at billions of kwacha stolen in the 2016/2017 financial year which saw some of the people involved.
Malawi heavily relies on donor support such as the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the Global Fund for Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV Aids, for drug supplies in public hospitals.
Two year ago, former Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume estimated that K5 billion worth of drugs and medical supplies, from a drug budget of K17 billion, were stolen. n