‘Malawi’s drug shortage unconstitutional’

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has said the current drug shortage in the country’s health facilities is not only deplorable, unacceptable and inexcusable, but also outright unconstitutional.

The society, in a news statement issued on Wednesday, said the situation violates, among other rights, the rights of Malawians to health, life and dignity; hence, should not continue.

The lawyers’ body has said it will monitor the situation and will, in the face of continuing inability by the State to resolve the drug shortage, exercise its statutory mandate to take lawful measures in the interest of the Malawian public.

Minister of Health Catherine Gotani-Hara disclosed in Lilongwe on Tuesday that public hospitals, especially district and referral centres in the country, have run out of 95 percent of essential drugs.

The minister’s admission followed an emotional open letter 15 doctors at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe wrote to President Joyce Banda and Malawians, and published in The Nation of Monday, bemoaning that patients are dying from treatable diseases due to drug shortage.

Asked to explain in an interview on the lawful measure his body may take if the situation continued, MLS president John-Gift Mwakhwawa said such rights are litigable; hence, they could seek the court’s intervention to compel government to meet its statutory obligation.

Attorney General (AG) Anthony Kamanga, who is chief legal adviser to government, in an interview said he had not seen the MLS statement and could only comment after going through it.

The MLS said it is no secret that the overwhelming majority of Malawians are poor and cannot afford services at private health facilities.

It reads: “Failing to stock public hospitals with essential drugs is as a consequence as good as passing an undeserved death sentence on the majority of our people.

“The society takes cognisance of significant instances of pilferage that characterise the supply of drugs and medical supplies in the country,” reads the statement in part.

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