Government medical insurance scheme in doubt


Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Juliana Lunguzi, has said government is showing signs of scepticism on its own proposal to introduce a medical insurance scheme for those in wage employment.

The 2015 contract performance agreement between the Minister of Health and President Peter Mutharika has four reform areas including revitalising the medical insurance scheme alongside the expansion of paying services in public hospitals.

In the agreement, the Ministry of Health proposed to introduce medical insurance schemes for those who are on salary and pay tax to Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), beginning with public servants.


According to the agreement, all people on insurance would be accessing paying services in public hospitals, enjoying a shorter queue and be attended to quickly apart from being able to access some agreed services in private hospitals.

Lunguzi said she feels the government is focusing on making all hospitals autonomous entities and ‘politically’ avoiding the medical insurance issue.

“My assumption is that it is a tricky issue because you are looking at asking people to contribute something. Monetary issues are always difficult to be responded to positively. Government is introducing a paying system when we have a free-health service.


“If you followed what honourable Goodall Gondwe said in Parliament, at one point when the issue was introduced, it seems they are not ready to discuss that, which is very unfortunate because we really needed to discuss this issue,” Lunguzi said.

But Secretary for Health and Population, Dan Namarika, said there is progress and what remains is to engage the public.

Namarika said lessons from recent Tanzania and Ethiopia visits will be shared on a platform that World Health Organisation (WHO) is willing to coordinate.

“We have done quite significant work on that and what needs to be done is engaging the society to get their view on that,’ Namarika said.

He said Tanzania has been implementing a national health insurance scheme for 15 years, capturing both civil servants and the informal sector, but they have only managed to capture about 34 percent of the needed population.

“All that information that we have collected will be presented and Malawi and Malawians will decide where they want to go,” he said.

Considering the challenges that government is experiencing in mobilising adequate financial resources for the health sector, the Ministry of Health also proposed to set up a health fund to complement the national budget and support from partners.

It was expected that the fund would be managed just as the Roads Fund Administration and a taskforce was set up to review all knowledge around the subject internally and externally and advise on the specifics of the Fund but the project is yet to materialise.

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