Malawi has secured a K5.8 billion loan for the construction of its first specialised cancer centre at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe.
Disclosing this in an interview with The Nation in Lilongwe yesterday, Health Ministry spokesperson Henry Chimbali explained that the loan has been provided by the Organisation for Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (Opec).
“Opec also agreed to our request to start the procurement of a consultant to complete the designs for the centre, a process we have already started,” he said.
However, Chimbali hastened to explain that construction will start only after Parliament discusses and approves the project’s loan bill. The ministry plans to have the bill presented in the House during its next sitting this year.
“This is massive investment that will assist in reducing government’s expenditure in referral cases of cancer patients,” he said.
The ministry usually refers cancer patients to South Africa and India. The spokesperson did not disclose how much the ministry spends in seeking the external treatment, but he only stressed that the service drains the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
“Our assessment shows that we need five specialised cancer centres and when we complete this one in Lilongwe, we will see how much more we can spread on this service,” Chimbali said.
Hospital records across the country indicate that cancer cases are on the increase.