Atupele laments inadequate drug funding

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Malawi Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi says the allocation for drugs and medical supplies in the 2018/19 budget is falling far short of the required amount.

Speaking when he addressed Parliament on Friday, Muluzi said the MK22.8 billion provided for drugs and medical supplies in the 2018/19 financial year does not meet full requirement.

OMalawi Hospitalsut of the MK22.8 billion, MK14.3 billion is for districts while K8.5 billion is for central hospitals.

Muluzi expressed hope that donors will come in to buy drugs for Malawi during the 2018/19 financial year.

“We are working with our development partners to ensure that we can fill the gap such that we can continue to work towards the delivery of universal health coverage”, he said.

On drug theft, Muluzi said government is strengthening the supply chain system for medicines and medical supplies and is working to increase the efficiency of procurement processes.

“That does not mean weakening accountability and governance but introducing more agile practices that will reduce the very heavy administrative burden that multiple supply chains bring.  It is this heavy burden of administration that ironically seems to have weakened the system and increased the risk of theft and corruption,” he said.

He added that his ministry wants to merge all of the supply chains into one (Central Medical Stores Trust) by January next year.

The minister then expressed hope that the approval of the Pharmacy & Medicines Regulation Authority Bill will lead to stiffer penalties for drug thieves.

On drug loss, Muluzi said government is expanding and in other cases building new pharmacy space in health facilities to make sure that drugs are properly stored.

During the speech, Muluzi also revealed that the ministry realised that it can save money by buying certain medicines and medical supplies locally as part of the Buy Malawi Campaign.

“Let me report, Mr Speaker Sir, that due to the combined effect of procurement using prequalified suppliers, indefinite quantity contracts and the Buy Malawi campaign, the availability of core medicines and medical supplies at the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) increased from 57 per cent in FY 2015/16 to 64 per cent in 2017/18.

“During the same period, the extent to which demand for medicines and medical supplies was met increased from 51 per cent to 73 per cent, this is real progress, but we continue to work towards improving this to 100%.” Muluzi said.

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