Misplaced priorities

In this part of Africa, government hospitals are supposed to have all necessary equipment and supplies as compared to private hospitals. Ironically, the situation in Malawi is different. 

As someone diabetic, I completely rely on the constant supply of proper medicines which are supposed to be readily available in government hospitals.

It is, however, pathetic that when I visit the hospital looking for medicines, I am told to go and buy from private pharmacies. 

There are instances where diabetic patients are given insulin without syringes even though one cannot get the dose without syringes. They are told to buy from the pharmacy.

This does not only happen to diabetics but also those with high blood pressure, asthma and other conditions that need urgent medication.

In this age, some government hospitals are failing to stock medicines for these serious diseases. Pregnant women give birth in candlelight just because some hospitals do not have electricity.

Some are forced to walk long distances to access hospitals because there is no ambulance. Machines for dialysis but also MRI scan are usually not working. As such, people are forced to pay huge sums of money to access them in private hospitals.

Procurement and quick maintenance of medical equipment is also a very big challenge.  Even hospital buildings are in awful shape due to lack of maintainance. 

For a second, think about a person living in dire poverty in some village. This is the person who entirely depends on the public health systems but is often let down when told to go and buy medicine at some pharmacy instead of accessing it for free at the nearest public health facility.

All this is happening because of low funding from the government.

Therefore, it is sad to see that the 2019/20 proposed national budget has allocated K1.6 billion for the construction of two stadiums for Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers football clubs.

This money would make a huge difference if allocated to the health sector and used to buy medicine and other vital supplies in hospitals.

How can taxpayers’ money be used to construct stadiums for private entities?

What harm would it do to pump this money into the health sector?

By the way, it is almost nine months since the Malawi College of Health Sciences closed due to a strike staged by lecturers who are demanding arrears and a 47 percent salary increment.

This has greatly affected the training of health workers for the health system already hit hard by a high disease burden and shortage of staff.

It is ironic government wants to splash money on privately sponsored sports clubs when the stand-off delaying the opening of its college requires nothing, but  money to be resolved.

When you see money going to other areas instead of priority areas as the gaps in the health sector, it’s disheartening. 

 Health service provision is supposed to be a priority in the national budget.

The ministry is supposed to get a lion’s share because it deals with people’s lives. 

It’s not wrong to build stadia, but they are neither a priority nor a necessity at the moment.

Right now the country is facing more pressing problems, especially in the health sector. 

This is why there has been an outcry from a lot of sectors that the K1. 6 billion stadia is just a waste of public resources. 

Every Malawian has that right to quality physical and mental health.

This includes access to good sanitation, good water, medical services, health working conditions, decent housing, adequate food and a healthy environment.

Government’s failure to provide these services violates human rights.

The stadia project can wait.

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