Civil society organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders have warned the Malawi government against implementing financial reforms in referral hospitals under health sector reforms to protect people from poor health care.
The concerns have come in the wake of the hike in hospital bypass fees at referral hospitals from K100 to K1 500. The development, argue the CSOs, has resulted in congestion at district hospitals and health centres.
Speaking in an interview after a stakeholders’ consultation meeting on the reforms in Mzuzu, Global Hope Mobilisation executive director Caleb Thole said while the reforms are being implemented in good faith, they have left a number of people vulnerable.
He said a study commissioned by government revealed that Malawi is not ready for fee paying in public health institutions as majority of the people live below the poverty line and the country lacks enough hospitals.
Thole said free access to referral hospitals helped to narrow the gap in accessing better health services when the bypass fee was K100. He said hiking of the fee has seen a number of people failing to pay the bypass fee to get quality health care.
Livingstonia Synod Church and Society project officer Twambi Kayuni said there are a number of reasons people opt for referral hospitals, among them, lack of capacity at district hospitals and health centres to handle the growing population, especially in urban areas.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said he needed to consult on the matter before responding. n