Increase medical drugs budget-Parliamentary Health Committee

A pharmacist in a pharmacy

The Parliamentary Committee on Health is lobbying for increased funding to the health sector to address the re-current shortages of essential drugs in public hospitals in Malawi.

Hospitals have run out of essential drugs leaving thousands of patients including pregnant women enduring untold suffering leading to delayed surgeries due to lack of blood and life-saving products such as diclofenac and gentamycin.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Association of Malawian midwives and the national organisation of nurses and midwives (NOMN).

It indicated that medics are forced to perform Caesarian section on pregnant women without administering anesthesia.

With Malawi providing only 9 percent of national budget to the health sector against the recommended 15 percent in line with the Abuja declaration, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health Dr. Mathews Ngwale has appealed to government to adhere to the declaration.

He said he asked the Minister of Health to give its position on drug shortages in the district hospitals while indicating the levels of the budgets in each districts and most of them had consumed 60 to 80 percent of their budgets  by October last year.

Ngwale: There is no point having meetings, the drug budget has to be increased

Ngwale stated he raised an alarm on the situation noting that in the districts patients are sent back without being given certain essential drugs and then feared of things worsening.

According to the chairperson, the solution lies in increasing the drug budget.

“Now if you look at what the nurses are doing, it means that nothing has been happening on the ground. But what I’ve seen also is another letter from the Ministry going to district and nursing officers and other stakeholders where government wants to explain to these stakeholders what the drug situation is; what government is doing, intends to do to ease the situation and my hope is that the nurses who want to march and probably give it their input as well that’s where we are.

 “It’s time the drug budget was increased, it’s time the budget to the health sector was increased, there is no point having meetings, the drug budget has to be increased; we have to have make an effort to adhere to the Abuja declaration,” he said.

He was upbeat the budget session in March will implement an increase of the drug budget.

Ministry of Health is on record to have attributed the shortage to the impact of COVID-19 as a bulk of its medicine comes from India which was hit hard by the pandemic hence slowed down production of other medicines.

Against reports of drug theft and pilferage, a Drug theft investigation unit was established in the Ministry and works with the Malawi police service to address the problem.