Malawi President Peter Mutharika has said over K5 billion (about $14m) is needed to revamp the health sector, which must also rid itself of malpractices such as drug pilferage, mis-procurement and poor storage.
“There is urgent need to improve on the efficient and effective use of available resources in a more prudent way at all levels,” he declared, when opening a two-day Health Financing Summit in Lilongwe yesterday.
The summit, whose theme is Investing in Health for Socio-Economic Development, has brought together Health Ministry officials and various local and international development partners.
Among other key topics, participants are discussing Malawi’s disease burden, health service delivery, resource gaps, policy changes and personnel development and deployment.
Mutharika acknowledged that over the past 50 years of independence, the health sector in Malawi has made considerable progress which needs to be guarded jealously.
But he pointed out that local problems like a fast-growing population, hunger and poverty have compounded the challenges which have dogged the country’s health sector, including communicable diseases such as HIV and Aids and tuberculosis.
“For a very long time, our health sector has focused more on communicable diseases. However, we now have evidence showing that we almost have a double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Our poor health lifestyles have given rise to diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart conditions, among others,” lamented Mutharika.
In her remarks, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Dr. Eugene Nyarko said donors are willing to help Malawi in eradicating all factors that have hindered the growth of a vibrant health sector.
“Today, Malawi can describe herself as being at a cross-roads where hard decisions are to be made to turn the scales towards long-term sustainable health financing.” he said.