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‘Health budget not enough’

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George Jobe

Parliament’s Health, HIV and Nutrition Cluster Wednesday said funds allocated to the Ministry of Health are not enough, citing efficiency as one of the areas that would suffer.

Budget estimates indicate that K183 billion has been allocated to the health sector for nine months.

Cluster chairperson Mathews Ngwale reported to the august House that the Ministry of Health’s budget for 2021-2022 does not have funds for 900 health centres the government pledged to construct to reduce the distance patients cover to reach healthcare service centres.

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Ngwale also said there was no indication of resources set aside for procurement of Covid vaccines amid increased demand.

“There is no line on vaccine purchases. Our country is heavily dependent on donors and I think it’s because of that dependence that we have left the procurement of the vaccines in the hands of the donors. We need to buy even one million jabs to show that we are committed,” he said.

But Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda insisted that efforts were being made to procure Covid vaccines, adding that the World Bank had pledged $30 million to the cause.

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Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director George Jobe told The Daily Times that there was a need for transparency in the management of Covid resources.

“We were told that there is an allocation towards Covid but is imbedded in the Essential Health Package. The Covid allocation must come out transparently so that oversight bodies, such as Parliament and civil society organisations, do not have difficulties to monitor utilisation of the same. It must be an issue of great concern that members of Parliament cannot locate what they must provide oversight on,” he said.

In a related development, the threat of a third wave of Covid continues to linger over Malawi as the country registered 62 new Covid cases Wednesday.

The country had not registered more than 60 new cases in a day since March 19, when the country registered 129 cases, according to The Daily Times’ observance of daily updates which the Ministry of Health (MoH) issues.

The number of active Covid cases is 462.

The MoH indicates that 49 of the new Covid cases are locally transmitted— Blantyre (17), Lilongwe (14), Dowa (5), Karonga (3) and two each for Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Kasungu, Machinga, Mangochi, and Mzimba North districts— while 13 cases are imported, of which four were recorded in Lilongwe, two each in Blantyre and Mangochi, and one each from Thyolo, Chikwawa, Machinga, Salima and Zomba Districts.

One person died Wednesday, bringing the Covid-related death toll to 1, 163 as of Wednesday.

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