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Malawi Health Equity Network wants health budget increased

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The Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) has pleaded with Members of Parliament (MPs) to lobby for an increase to the health sector budget so that it is in line with the Abuja Declaration.

According to the declaration—which Malawi is party to—15 percent of every national budget must go to the health sector.

For the 2017/18 national budget, the sector has an allocation of 9.9 percent, an increase from the current financial year’s eight percent and the third largest after education and agriculture.

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However, with this provision still falling short of the 15 percent Abuja Declaration, Mhen observes that poor Malawians will continue suffering as far as access to health care is concerned.

On Wednesday night, the network presented its health sector budget analysis to MPs from parliamentary committees of Health, Local Authorities and Budget and Finance and the Women Caucus.

Mhen Executive Director George Jobe disclosed that in the 2017/18 budget estimates, the health sector has been given K129 billion but proposed that most challenges in the sector could be optimally addressed if the budget were increased to K190 billion.

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“There is no increase in drug budget for districts. Already some district hospitals depleted their allocations months before the end of the current financial year; so, without an increase, we are going to have the same challenges and women and children are usually the most affected,” Jobe said.

Women Caucus Chairperson Jessie Kabwila, who spoke on behalf of Health Committee of Parliament Chairperson Juliana Lunguzi, concurred with those who argued that the health sector budget should be increased.

“If the budget remains like that, poor people will continue suffering because they rely on district hospitals. We agreed with the Abuja Declaration because we understood its significance. It is important that funds to the health sector are always enough.

“I implore my fellow MPs to fight for an increase in allocation to the health sector. The whole budget has to be in line with the Abuja Declaration and the drugs budget must be increased,” Kabwila said.

Meanwhile, the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives has disclosed that there are 13,952 nurses in the country against a population of 17 million, a ratio which is not good, according to the World Health Organisation.

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