The drug shortage outcry is expected to continue biting Malawians as government has only committed K6 billion (US$17 391 304) towards the national medical supplies and medicines demand pegged at K11 billion (US$31 884 057 971), The Nation has learnt.
Public hospitals have for a long time faced with drug shortage and patients forced to buy drugs from private health facilities forcing the poor to be major victims.
Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) acting chief executive officer Fred Mzoma confirmed the figures on Monday in an interview where the trust consulted stakeholders on the implementation of expenditure control measures.
But he said Ministry of Health was better placed to explain the K6 billion allocation.
He said the trust has since devised a means to ensure money realised from supplies is reinvested to help fight the shortfall.
“We will issue contracts based on the K11 billion demand. We will make supplies in phases so that money is reinvested to avoid the gaps,” said Mzoma.
In 2011, government hospitals owed the CMST K3 billion (US$8 milli0n) and have managed to settle K2 billion (US$6 million). They also accrued another K1.7 billion (US$3 million) debt and it has taken Treasury to settle the K1.7 billion.
Mzoma said the debts were affecting operations of the trust, especially that the money buying power was depreciating and no interests are attached.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali on Tuesday said Treasury was better placed to explain the low allocation. However, he said any shortfalls affect the delivery of quality health service.
“When we have such big gaps, definitely they affect quality of service and that is a big challenge,” said Chimbali.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya said he needed to consult on the allocation.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director Martha Kwataine said the K6 billion is not healthy for a country with a booming population and diseases.
However, she said government alone cannot fight the shortage and there is need to enhance paying services in government hospitals.
“Even in the villages, not everyone is poor. So, if we can enhance paying services there will be money to buy drugs. We cannot solely rely on government, it will not help, the deficit is very big,” said Kwataine.