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Minister admits that patients are suffering

Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume on Tuesday admitted the suffering of Malawians living near Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) facilities whose Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with government were suspended.

Kumpalume was responding to a supplementary question by Lilongwe South Member of Parliament (MP), Peter Dimba, who wanted to find out what government is doing regarding the suspended SLAs.

Said Dimba: “In my constituency, people have to pay to access health services at Malingunde Health Centre which is owned by Nkhoma Synod, and I am aware of several other Cham health centres whose SLAs were cancelled. With the levels of poverty and hunger, patients are suffering.”

In his response, Kumpalume said a good example of the effects of the suspension of the SLAs is the drop in the number of pregnant women who use the Cham facilities.

“But the question is what we are doing to address the problem. Between the Ministry of Health and Cham executive, we have been having discussions and at the last discussion which I also attended, the agreement was that everything will be sorted out by December 20,” said Kumpalume.

He added that by that day, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will have been signed by the two parties.

“The beauty of this agreement is that we are actually including other services which were not covered in the previous agreement. People will access healthcare services for other diseases apart from maternal issues,” said Kumpalume.

In his response to another supplementary question by Mzimba North MP, Agnes Nyalonje, on what the Ministry of Health is doing to reduce congestion in health facilities, Kumpalume said the mapping exercise that his ministry conducted will gradually reduce the problem.

“It is our target that no Malawian walks more than eight kilometres to access a health facility. I know that some people cover up to 30 kilometres. We are working on reducing that. Already 15 health facilities are earmarked for construction in different areas,” said the minister.

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