WHO calls for alternatives in health funding as ECSA-Health Community launches campaign for increased Government funding for Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Maternal and Newborn Child Health in Malawi
Lilongwe, 10 May 2012: The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that Malawi should consider new forms of funding its health service programmes if it is to sustain their development and progress.
WHO country representative Dr. Felicitas Zawaira made the remarks yesterday in Lilongwe during the opening of a two-day national symposium on sustainable financing for family planning, reproductive health, newborn and child health in Malawi- where are we and where are we headed?
Zawaira said it was unfortunate that many African countries have up to now relied mainly on partners to provide family planning commodities.
Said Zawaira: “To me, it is like entrusting a country’s army into the hands of a foreigner! As we sit here, it is still unclear as to what proportion of our health expenditure goes to address the Millennium Development Goals 4 or 5 interventions.
“From time to time, National Health Accounts (NHAs) are done with sub accounts in child and reproductive health. This is something that needs to be supported and institutionalised in the Ministry of Health but that information should be fed to health advocates such as our Parliamentarians”.
She noted that while Malawi has been providing free health care services since independence, in reality, the cost could be high because of the long distances people have to travel to the nearest health facilities and the long waiting times.
Zawaira also said that high teenage pregnancy rates were contributing to the rapid population growth and maternal mortality, placing the total fertility rate at 5.7. She described the trend as “unacceptably high.
USAID’s Miriam Lutz said that Malawi was still working to reach the Abuja target of 15 percent of government health expenditures for health with recent estimates indicating that half or more of her total expenditures are financed by donors.
Deputy Minister of Health Halima Daudi, in her opening remarks admitted that maternal mortality ratio remained high at 675 per 100 000 live births. Daudi said: “The question one might ask is that 71 percent of the pregnant women are delivered by skilled attendants, who assists the remaining 29 percent? This shows that so many deliveries continue to be made in the hands of unqualified personnel. Infant mortality is reducing but 47 percent of children under 5 years are either moderately or severely stunted”.
She said it was encouraging to see that the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) has come to assist Malawi support interventions aimed at addressing challenges that exist in Malawi.