Development Communications Trust (DCT) has expressed concern over government’s failure to implement universal health coverage (UHC), saying people in rural areas face challenges in accessing health services.
Speaking at a press briefing in Blantyre on Friday, DCT executive director Prince Mtelera said the State is obliged to provide adequate health care commensurate with the health needs of the Malawian society and international standards of health care, but many Malawians face challenges in accessing quality health services.
He cited an incident at Kuundu Health Centre, a Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) health facility in Dedza, where there is no public health facility and families are forced to pay to access the service. He said one family, from Madzianchuli Village in Traditional Authority Kachindamoto in the district, was forced to borrow money from a loan-shark (katapila) to pay for the service.
“Government should look into the eight-kilometre radius health policy where government cannot construct a public health facility where there is another health facility. Ministry of Health says the proportion of the population living within an 8km radius of a health facility (health centres and hospitals) stands at 90 percent in 2016. But the question is, what type of facility are the people accessing? Public or Cham?” asked Mtelera.
In her remarks, DCT project officer Zione Mayaya said the organisation is committed to working with government and other stakeholders to promote UHC.
DCT has also documented issues that require advocacy at national level and these include the need for increased funding for the health sector according to the Abuja Declaration, decentralisation of procurement of medical supplies and drugs to eliminate persistent shortage of medical supplies in health facilities, and an increase in medical staff to curb human resources inadequacies in health facilities.
Currently, DCT is implementing various projects in Balaka and Phalombe aimed at achieving UHC. n