The Office of the Ombudsman has launched investigations against Ministry of Disaster Management and Public Events on how the ministry is utilising billions of kwacha that government has received for Covid-19 pandemic fight.
The office said it has come to learn of some allegations of lack of accountability, accessibility and responsiveness of services under the National Covid-19 Response Plan of March 2020.
In a letter to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Public Events, Elvis Thodi, dated July 1 2020, Ombudsman Martha Chizuma demands a detailed account of how the money has been used by July 17, 2020.
The Office of the Ombudsman’s spokesperson, Arthur Semba, confirmed yesterday that Ombudsman wrote the letter saying the office has been observing with interest all the interventions the Malawi government has and continues to make in response to Covid-19 pandemic.
In the letter, the Ombudsman said is looking for detailed information of all funding made by government or any other international body towards Covid-19 intervention in Malawi.
“List all public institutions in Malawi that have received such funding for Covid-19 interventions. Any other report of expenditure or activities that have been carried out so far in relation to Covid-19 activities,” reads part of the letter.
According to the Ombudsman, the investigation will take a bottom up approach whereby the office will be analysing the funds received by each of the district councils, city councils, and other public institutions.
“In this regard the office will be monitoring the Covid-19 activities planned by the public institutions, the activities actually carried out, effectiveness of those activities and observing legal, policy or best practice gaps in the implementation of the same,” the letter further reads.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Public Events, through its spokesperson, Chipiliro Khamula confirmed receiving the letter saying they are committed to furnish the Ombudsman with information to aid investigations into the alleged lack of accountability for funds under the National Covid-19 response operations.
“As a Ministry, we are already compiling an expenditure report on Covid-19 funds and being a public institution, we realise that we are accountable to the general public and all oversight institutions; and we are going to honour the request made by the honourable Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.
Malawi needs K157 billion to effectively implement the National Covid-19 Response Plan.
The plan shows that protection and social support was allocated a lion’s share of about K92.4 billion. Food security had the second biggest allocation about K16.5 billion.
The breakdown further shows that coordination has an allocation of about K332.4 million while communication was allocated K1.1 billion. Health cluster was allocated K15.4 billion while water, sanitation and hygiene cluster was allocated K11.9 billion.
Other allocations without actual funds available during the launch of the Plan were employment K2.9 billion, security and enforcement K8.3 billion and transport and logistics K1.2 billion. Education was allocated K7.4 billion and was provided with no shortfall.
According to a crisis overview as analysed by the United Nations (UN) Malawi’s health system has limited capacity to deal with the burden of Covid-19.
In a Malawi Emergency Appeal for May – October 2020 that was released in May this year the UN said there are just 20 ventilators nationwide, for a population of over 18 million, and approximately 25 intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
The UN said Malawi also has one of the highest health worker shortages in Africa, with only 28 nurses and 2 physicians per 100,000 people.
Following some of these revelations the immediate past government started recruitment process of 2000 health workers to help in the fight against the global pandemic.