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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Let Malawi own health services’ funding

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The provision of public health services has traditionally been considered the role of the government. This is a given because the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi guarantees the right to good health.

The government is, therefore, duty-bound to ensure that this right is realised in its quest to ensure that its citizens are healthy. This is done by keeping citizens away from the dangers of ill-health.

Sadly, this has not always been the case, meaning that life in Malawi, health-wise, has hardly resembled the tableau of domestic bliss we were told it would be after attaining independence in 1964.

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Instead, life in Malawi has been littered with such heart-breaking problems as shortage of funds in the health sector and preventable deaths. As we speak, Malawi is far from meeting its international commitments to provide 15 percent of its annual budget to the health sector annually.

Consequently, failure to finance our own health budgets has meant reliance, to a fault, on external well-wishers. Predictably, this puts us at their mercy and any paradigm shift in policies affects us dearly.

A case in point is funding to health development programmes. As we speak, and as one of the stories we have carried in this newspaper indicates, there are fears that the United States of America’s proposed cuts on HIV treatment, health development programmes and research could have a disastrous and deadly impact on the fight against HIV and Aids in Malawi.

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While the Embassy, and the Ministry of Health, have assured us that the Americans remain firmly committed to partnering with the Government of Malawi to continue the joint fight against HIV, we take it that this should serve as a wakeup call to the Malawi Government.

It is high time we took control of funding and the provision of health services, instead of relying on well-wishers who, like winds, may go in one direction in one moment, and do the opposite the next moment.

All development revolves around health and it is only healthy citizens who can contribute actively to the development of a nation.

Time to find alternatives to external funding in the health sector is now.

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