In keeping with the conviction that donors have abandoned Malawi, President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday appealed to potential investors in the Commonwealth to invest in the country’s health sector which is reeling under the burden of poor resources.
The President’s call has come against a background of government failing to provide enough funds to hire doctors and nurses, lack of money to stock drugs and little money to service and replace medical equipment in public hospitals.
Mutharika made a presentation to a group of potential investors during a panel on The Business of Health: Improving Access and Outcomes at the ongoing Commonwealth Business Forum, a prelude to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Valletta on the Mediterranean Sea island State of Malta.
During the panel discussion, the President admitted that there is limited access to high quality healthcare services which is largely dependent on donor funds and taxes.
However, Mutharika said Malawi has been experiencing an ever-growing mismatch between needs and resources.
He said: “As a result, our health services have been less than desired. Only very few people can choose to access better health services within and outside my country.”
Proposed areas of investments which Mutharika outlined included a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement for running of hospitals, and contract arrangements in supply and maintenance of medical equipment.
Another area which Mutharika appealed for investment in health was running medical insurance schemes, building and operating laboratories, managing referral systems and running outsourced services at hospitals.
These are the reforms which the health sector has proposed to introduce as part of the Public Sector Reforms whose commission is chaired by Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
Said Mutharika: “Such reforms come in a context of constitutionally guaranteed investment security. And Malawi has always been a peaceful and politically secure country for decades.”
The President said Malawi had the legal framework for the private sector to invest and participate in the delivery of public services in a bid to improve access and health outcomes such the Private Public Partnership Act.
“I would like to take advantage of this gathering to invite you to come and invest in the health sector in Malawi,” he said.
Malta parliamentary secretary for health, Chris Fearne, said developing a sustainable healthcare system and improving access and outcomes in the health sectors of the Commonwealth through investments would benefit not only the business community but also its citizens.
Another panellist, Dr Gordon Dingli, president of the Medical Association of Malta, also agreed, saying: “There is a new trend towards health financing such as PPPs. These are long-term projects which involve contract drafting and planning which is expertise that could be spread and shared within the Commonwealth.” n