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Peter Mutharika courts private sector on health

President Peter Mutharika has called on both local and foreign private sector players to invest in Malawi’s health to ensure the welfare of the population.

Mutharika made the case in Malta during his keynote address to the Business Forum, one of the parallel events for this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

Mutharika said health is everything for the population in the Commonwealth and that improving access to quality health services matters seriously.

He said the state of health in the Commonwealth was of concern but also an opportunity for private sector investment and service to humanity.

“This is a community where the majority of humankind still lives in the villages and slums of poverty. Poverty is a pit from which many cannot easily rise to access quality life out there. Poverty is a grave for many people.

“But where some see poverty and disease, we see service to humanity and investment opportunities,” he said in his address titled “The Business of Health: Improving Access and Outcomes”.

Mutharika said improving health care and outcomes is more than a challenge for governments.

He said governments, business operators and health researchers made up a community “called upon to a sacred duty of saving precious lives and improving the quality of life”.

“The business of health is all about making sure that all people, regardless of their predisposition and situations, are able to live a good quality life, free of diseases and ill health,” said Mutharika.

In the statement, Mutharika cited how conditions such as HIV and Aids, maternal complications, tuberculosis, hypertension and non-communicable diseases were compromising people’s well being, a situation worsened by limited access to quality health care services in part due to constrained national budgets.

“Only very few people can choose to access better health services within and outside my country. And Malawi is not alone in this tragic situation,” he said.

He said his government was, therefore, working to attract private players into the business of health through provision of investor-friendly climate.

Mutharika invited the private sector to run hospitals of all types and sizes, take up contracts in supply and maintenace of medical equipment, run medical insurance schemes, build and operate loboratories, manage referral systems and run outsourced services.

“We believe we can turn around the health sector. We can turn around the quality of life with more participating players,” said Mutharika.

The Mutharika administration has been placing emphasis on private sector investment in a bid to fastrack Malawi’s development.

In February this year, Mutharika launched a compendium of over 100 development projects in Malawi in various sectors including health.

For instance, in the compendium government is looking for investors to construct and operate two modern treatment cancer centres in the Southern Region and Northern Region at the estimated total cost of US$12 million.

Government notes that while cancer patients with access to resources travel to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania for treatment, the majority of Malawians live below the poverty line and are unable to access treatment abroad.

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