BLANTYRE (Maravipost)– Malawi legislators have have finally authorised Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe to borrow $13.1 million (about K5.3 billion) from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) Fund for International Development for the construction of the National Cancer Centre in Lilongwe.
The loan bill was passed on Tuesday after a lengthy debate on yet-to-be constructed cancer centre report challenging government’s plans to relocate the construction of the Centre from administrative capital to Blantyre.
Government through the Finance Minister told the House that would be constructed next to College of Medicine in Blantyre, not Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), claiming that the principles of the loan felt the cancer centre should be next to a medical school.
But this did not go down well most members including the Parliamentary Committee on Health (PCH) who challenged Gondwe’s assertions.
Chairperson of the Committee Juliana Lunguzi argued that Opec Fund did not dictate such a requirement in its Memorandum of Understanding with the government.
Most MPs argued that Lilongwe was more ideal for the Cancer Centre because there more specialist medical doctors at KCH where University of North Calorina is supporting pathology services for free while in Blantyre, they are provided by College of Medicine and Mwaiwanthu Priavte Hospital at a fee.
The country’s 64 slice Computerised Tomography scan machine used for follow-up of treatment responses is also based in Lilongwe at KCH and are provided for free of charge, according to Parliamentary Committee on Health.
Others supported calls to have the facility constructed in Lilongwe as it would be easy to access by people referred from the northern and southern regions of Malawi.
It was also transpired that relocation of the centre would also delay the project whose feasibility studies and vetting by the International Atomic Energy Agency took two years to complete.
But after a protracted war of arguments and counter-arguments, the House agreed to have the Cancer Centre be constructed in Lilongwe, allowing the Finance Minister to borrow K5.3 billion to finance the construction and establishment of the facility at KCH in Lilongwe.