Malawi is still lagging behind in meeting some indicators for attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.
While the country has been lauded for doing exceptionally well in the area of community health services, a lot needs to be done in order to meet all set target for UHC.
In an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) in Kigali, Rwanda, Amref Health Africa Health Systems Advocacy Manager, Benedict Chinsakaso said there is so much that country needs to do to achieve UHC.
“The vacancy rate for human resource for health is very high, at more than 50%. Again, access to health to health facilities we are not doing well despite setting up 8 kilometres as a radius within which people can find the nearest health facility of in Malawi. These are some of the areas we need to be focusing on energies on,” explained Chinsakaso.
Health financing is another area that he highlighted that needs urgent approach by doing away with over reliance on outside support.
“In other areas we are actually 100 percent supported by the donors. For example, Malawi government has a budget line for commodities but does not have one for programs. We have UNFPA as the major donor for programs as well as commodities.
“This is a dangerous to the nation because if they decide to stop supporting us, it will be catastrophic for the country especially in the area of programs. This is why our government should make health financing a priority, more especially in terms of allocating domestic resources to run our own health service delivery,” he explained.
On the positive side, Chinsakaso singled out community health work as one of the areas which even international health NGOs like Amref have acknowledged the achievements registered.
“We have made positive developments especially in the areas of community health work. The development and launch of the National Community Health Strategy which actually works as a guide in terms of the programs we want to put in place with regards to community health workers.
“Being the first point of contact and it is at that primary level where diseases are controlled, preventive measures are put in place among others, community health workers are important and are the backbone to Malawi’s achievement of UHC,” he said.
Dr. Gerald Manthalu, Deputy Director of Planning, Ministry of Health and Population says in order to build on the successes of the Malawi community health system, government will enlist more workers.
“We have 9000 Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) plus community health nurses and volunteers. The target is to have one HSA per 1000 population by 2022. This will be achieved by having additional community nurses and health volunteers as well as HSAs,” he said.
Organized by Amref Health Africa, the Africa Health Agenda International Conference seeks to map a pathway from commitment to action on universal health coverage among other objectives.