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Health sector losing K130 billion per year

Malawi is losing slightly over K130 billion per year due to alleged financial constraints that have rocked the country’s health sector.

Health rights activist Maziko Matemba said this in a telephone interview yesterday in extension to a presentation he made at the launch of the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in Lilongwe last month.

Matemba, who heads Health and Rights Education Programme observed that the country’s health system had a lot of disparities and inefficiencies that needed correcting.

He said, if such constraints were worked on, the country could be saving about $10.6 per person per year which at the current exchange rate translates to slightly over K130 billion for the 17 million Malawians in a year.

The four main sources of inefficiencies in the health sector, according to Matemba, are health system leakages, high expenditure on human resources, low utilisation of hospital services and sub-optimal intervention mix.

“Efficiency savings of $10.6 per capita per annum could be generated if all the four main sources of inefficiencies in the health sector in Malawi are addressed,” Matemba said in the presentation.

On the high expenditure on human resource, Matemba noted in a subsequent interview that such is the case despite that the country is faced with persistent shortage of health personnel.

This, he said, is because of the numerous health expatriates that the country engages.

“If you look at the health sector in Malawi, we have a lot of expatriates who come to Malawi to support the health system, at the same time we have a lot of professionals who are not yet employed. So those are some of the disparities in the system that have to be reconciled, because the expenditure on such personnel is huge compared to the normal ones,” Matemba said.

The 2018 Human Resource for Health strategic plan indicates that the government and Christian Health Organisation of Malawi establishments have a 48 percent vacancy rate.

According to the document, Malawi currently employs a total of 37,926 health staff of cadres cutting across nursing, medical, dental, clinical, pharmacy and environmental health among others.

Matemba then bemoaned the continued tendencies of pilferage of drug and medical equipment in public facilities.

Another issue of concern, according to him, is the duplication of initiatives and programmes among stakeholders.

Programme manager for Journalists Association Against Aids Dingaan Mithi, who is also deputy chairperson for Universal Health Coverage Coalition in Malawi, shared Matemba’s sentiments.

“What we want to see is resources directly going into service delivery but such is not the case. If government can tackle these inefficiencies, a lot of money will be saved and generated and help boost the ailing health sector,” Mithi said.

Reacting to the concerns, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health Joshua Malango said the government strives to incentivise healthcare workers in the wake of vacancies in the sector.

“Paying healthcare workers is very important. We still have vacancies in the sector. We need more healthcare workers that are well incentivised,” he said.

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