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Trustees to run public hospitals

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By Eric Msikiti:

The government’s plans to turn all central hospitals into public trusts are at an advanced stage, Ministry of Health (MoH) spokesperson, Joshua Malango, has confirmed, amid fears that the move could compromise public healthcare delivery.

“The draft Trust Deeds has been developed and [it] will be submitted to the Justice [Ministry] before approval, then the trustees will be appointed as guided by the approved trustees’ deed. Staff in the concerned hospitals are being oriented on the subject,” Malango said on Sunday.

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According to the new order of things, which is part of reforms in the public healthcare delivery system, Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Mzuzu Central Hospital in Mzuzu City, Zomba Central Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre would upon finalisation of relevant processes, be run as entities by a board of trustees.

The ministry would retain its oversight role and mandate to ensure that the facilities and those who will be running them adhere to the government’s policies.

The appointed board of trustees would be responsible for implementation of day-to-day activities of referral hospitals which are critical to the provision of advanced healthcare services in Malawi despite various challenges.

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According to reports, the boards, would also be responsible for the management of resources in the facilities, but could be run as private entities if the board sees it fit to introduce user fees as one way of generating resources.

Malango dismissed such fears, saying the boards are not there to introduce any fees.

“The boards are only there for an oversight [role] on how resources are allocated, generated and accounted for so as to improve performance of the central hospitals. In health financing, as a country, we should be talking about national health insurance.

“The programme of national identities is the platform towards that end, so the government is not late but it has put in place the national health insurance so as to protect all Malawians,” Malango said.

The reforms, which would see the central hospitals turned into public trustees, are coming amid heated debate on how else Malawi could finance her public health service delivery system.

Stakeholders have spoken against bypass and user fees currently in place in some public health facilities in the country.

Charitable organisation, Oxfam, has also in the recent past stated that introducing fees at the point of access in public health facilities jeopardises Universal Health Coverage commitments Malawi is party to.

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