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‘Malawi needs K170bn to combat Covid-19’

Lazarus Chakwera

George Jobe

President Lazarus Chakwera has said the country needs about K169.9 billion ($220 million) to ably combat Covid-19, which has claimed 285 people in Malawi this far.

Speaking to BBC’s Veronique Edwards in Focus on Africa yesterday, Chakwera said the country needs medical supplies such as oxygen flow meters, ICU beds, personal protective equipment, among others.

The call for support by Chakwera comes two days after he declared a state of national disaster.

He said Malawi has 44 treatment centres, hence the need to upgrade Malawi’s 200 health centres cannot be overemphasised.

“We do need resources, we have three critical needs. We have shortage of space so that we can admit the critically sick, shortage of medical supplies to treat them as well as shortage of personal protective equipment for health workers.

“We also have need for oxygen flow meters, oxygen cylinders, patient monitors, PCR testing kits, ICU beds, infrared thermometers as well as N95 face masks, surgical gowns, face shields and goggles. The total financial support is really $220 million. This is truly something that we needed yesterday,” he said.

Commenting on how safe the money would be, considering reports that there has been abuse of money meant to combat Covid-19, Chakwera said there would be transparency and accountability to make sure that every penny counts.

“That has been raised and it has been a matter of concern that I have raised also. We want to make sure that everything is done transparently and we are able to account for every penny. Reports will be given and those responsible for any misuse will face the law,” he said.

In his reaction Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director George Jobe said to ensure transparency and accountability of the money should be handled by one ministry for easy management.

Drawing lessons from how the previous government handled the pandemic, Jobe said emotions should be controlled as others take advantage of the situation to bypass standard procedures.

“The lesson is there should be someone who is very sober who should seem not to be sympathising with the situation but should make sure procedures are being followed and that every penny is accounted for,” he said.

During the first wave of the pandemic, $213 million (K157 billion) was required to implement a National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. The plan had four pillars; Emergency preparedness and capacity-building; spread prevention and control, response and Early Recovery.

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