No medicine in Malawi’s public hospitals

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)- The country’s public hospitals have used already 87 percent of their annual drug finance allocation with four months remaining before the 2016/2017 national budget session startingJuly 1, 2017, The Maravi Post has established.

This development is raising fears to already stricken patients who have been subjected to insufficient access to medication in the public health facilities.

According to the Government’s Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST), revelations to our sister newspaper, The Nation, at February 2017, the total cost of drugs supplied to all District Hospital Offices (DHOs) was MK8.7 billion, out of which MK1.9 billion was expected to be paid from the fourth quarter-April-June-disbursement.

This means that the district hospitals have about MK475 million to spend on drugs each month, a decrease from MK833 million.

In the 2016/2017 national budget, government set aside MK15.8 billion for essential medicines and medical supplies, which was to be managed by CMST.

Out of the K15.8 billion budget, MK9.8 billion was for DHOs, MK6 billion was for central hospitals, and an amount of MK1.6 billion was for blood, blood products,and medical gas for public hospitals.

But at the beginning of the financial year, CMST quantified “Must Have List (MHL)” items valued at MK24 billion, which surpassed the total health budget.

“It is important to note that this isn’t CMST budget, but an estimate of requirements for MHL items based on past consumption by hospitals. Ministry of Health conducts a quantification exercise to determine annual requirements for drugs for public hospitals and data among other factors, informs the annual budgeting process.

“Currently, the drugs supplied to all heath facilities,are within the approved budget. All hospitals are being supplied based on authorization from the Ministry of Health and National Local Government Finance Committee, who are the budget holders”, CMST Spokesperson Herbert Chandilanga said.

Surprisingly, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, disclosed the coffers are dry for government increase the budget now to meet the MHL requirements, and said there is nowhere else the funds could come.

The drug shortfall reports, has not surprised the Parliamentary Committee on Health Chairperson Juliana Lunguzi, who said that her committee raised the same issue during debates on the national budget that funds for Malawi drug requirements were on the lower side.

Lunguzi expressed worry over the situation despite calls for the Finance Minister to do something before things got out of hand.

Out of 23 district hospitals, about 21 have exhausted their drug budgets, and they are now taking drugs from CMST hoping to pay in future.

The Maravi Post has over one billion views since its inception in December of 2009. Viewed in over 100 countries Follow US: Twitter @maravipost Facebook Page : maravipost Instagram: maravipost