Malawi’s bilateral donors have started responding to the health sector crisis with Britain announcing it would provide US$23 million (about K8 billion) for the buying of emergency drugs.

President Banda made the announcement on Monday during a doctors and administrators crisis meeting she called along with her entire cabinet at Kamuzu Palace immediately after her arrival from South Korea.

‘Gray areas’

The medical workers gave President Banda a blunt message; Malawi’s health sector is very sick and it needs an emergency operation.

The doctors said, for instance there is need for a complete overhaul in the drug procurement system, which they argued has increased cases of corruption because of the usage of middlemen as they double the cost of the drugs.

They also blamed bureaucracy for the delays in the drug purchasing processes demanding a decentralized system instead.

Most district administrators also complained of inadequate funding in their respective hospitals arising from the devaluation of the Malawi kwacha.

‘Solutions’

And speaking after listening to their proposals, President Banda admitted that there was indeed a need to change some of the ways the public health system has been operating such as the centralization process.

She was however quick to point out that she inherited the problems but that her administration was working hard to solve them.

Meanwhile, the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) has awarded seven companies to supply over US$1.9 (about K68 million) medicines and medical supplies, as public hospitals run out 95 percent of drugs.

Health authorities have also challenged the courts to mete stiff punishment to those found guilty of medical drugs, arguing the ‘small’ punishments are deterring efforts to curb the malpractice.

‘More aid’

A week ago, a United States-based organization, Americares, gave Malawi drugs worth about US$ 460,000 ( at least K175 million), as the country’s public hospitals run out of 95 percent of drugs.

Minister of Health, Catherine Gotani Hara, received the drugs at the CMST in the capital, Lilongwe.

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