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Health sector gets K12.9 billion donor boost

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Donors have renewed their support to Malawi’s grappling health sector with financing amounting to K12.9 billion through the Health Sector Joint Fund (HSJF).

Ministry of Health said since the withdrawal of sector and budget support, donors have agreed to fund a number of areas that do not pose a fiduciary risk until confidence is restored in the government financial systems.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy has said the donors find the cooperation and dialogue with the Malawi Government within the framework of the HSJF constructive and important.

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HSJF is a mechanism designed to channel funds into the health sector and to support the Government in its implementation of sector policy and plans.

Second Secretary for Royal Norwegian Embassy, Kari Edvardsdal Hansen said the health sector is a priority sector for Norway in Malawi, and the country is committed to continue supporting this sector in the coming years.

“Norway has disbursed last tranche to the fund under our current agreement, which ends at the end of this year. The other donors to the fund, KfW and DIFID, will disburse the funds in the course of the year, depending on the financial need of the fund,” she said.

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Hansen said the German Government, through KfW, has committed EUR 10 million (about K7.6 billion) to the HSJF. DFID has committed £6 million (about K5.3 billion) over 2017 and next year.

“We are planning to renew the agreement for support to HSJF next year. The HSJF is managed by a committee chaired by Ministry of Health,” she said.

Hansen added: “The HSJF development partners are highly committed to the sector. For the donors, harmonization and coordination within the health sector is important, and we believe the HSJF can contribute to maximise efficient use of funding to the sector.“

Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health (MoH), Charles Mwansambo said there are a number of areas that donors agreed to fund directly. These include essential drugs, infrastructure, service level agreements, vaccines and essential medical equipment amongst others.

“The HSJF was set up to respond to some of the priority areas identified at district level. It is a flexible fund designed to respond as far as possible within the constraints of donor funding mechanisms. This fund is not limited to utilities,” he said in a response to a questionnaire.

Mwansambo said for utilities, the requirement is to provide the estimated needs for the budget and HSJF will fund based on reconciliation of expenditure and submission of reports.

Last year, some district hospitals did not receive these funds for four months or more due to failure to submit expenditure reconciliation reports to the donors.

“The problem of justification of expenditures for some districts is being addressed through support to National local Government finance committee and support is being provided by a team of financial experts,” Mwansambo said.

The ministry admits that the first year of the HSJF funding mechanism provided valuable lessons.

It says the problems noted with funding infrastructure were related to revising the costs based on what work had already been carried out by contractors that the ministry was unable to provide the resources to complete. This has now been resolved and many projects have been resubmitted and approved.

HSJF supports the implementation of Malawi’s health system strategic plans of 2011-2016 and 2016-2021.

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