Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe has benefitted from Cashgate after Norway channelled part of its withdrawn budgetary support to construct six surgical theatres.
Before the Norwegian gesture, the referral facility had to make do with three theatres which authorities said were not adequate as surgeons needed to attend to many patients at the same time during emergencies such as road traffic accidents.
Handing over the modern theatres yesterday, Norwegian Ambassador Kikkan Haugen said the decision to redirect withheld budgetary support towards the construction of the six surgeries was arrived at to avoid depriving Malawians of support that was already available.
He said: “Cashgate [the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill exposed in 2013] showed us that we couldn’t trust the systems. So, rather than giving support straight to the systems through budget and sector support, we gave our support in different ways, but with more control mechanisms than we would have done under normal circumstances. But we didn’t send any money [back] to Norway.”
The project, financed through Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), comprised two phases with the first covering maintenance of the KCH’s high dependency unit (HDU) and the intensive care unit (ICU). The second phase saw the construction and furnishing of surgical theatres with modern equipment.
Haugen asked the Malawi Government to maintain standards and ensure retention of qualified staff in the facilities.
Receiving the gift, Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi hailed Norway for the project.
He assured that Malawi will maintain standards at the new facility.
NCA country director Havard Hovdhaugen said his institution was always looking for areas to invest in the country.
He said: “It ends here for now, but we are always searching for new partners to work with in new projects in Malawi.”
Following revelations of Cashgate, which a forensic audit for a randomly selected six months period between April and September 2013 showed K24 billion was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered, development partners withdrew their support.