The budget for Malawi’s National Coronavirus (Covid-19) Preparedness and Response Plan has been revised upwards by K97 billion from K157 billion, representing a 61.7 percent increase, the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus has confirmed.
In an interview in Lilongwe yesterday, task force member Prince Kapondamgaga, who is responsible for finances, said the initial plan excluded some priority areas such as agriculture as it predominantly focused on health.
“The national response plan budget is now at K254 billion. Now it tackles a broader spectrum; hence, the increase in the budget,” he said.
But despite the increase, response plan has remained slow and the task force is hoping that government and stakeholders will do the best they can to assist.sourcing money for the
Currently, the fund has K63 billion, meaning that the response plan budget is facing a K191 billion deficit. The K63 billion does not include the K6.5 billion donation from the Reserve Bank of Malawi, according to Kapondamgaga, who is also chief executive officer of Farmers Union of Malawi and president of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
He said: “I say we have K63 billion both in cash and kind from government [K7.4 billion] and the rest from donors. However, this money does not include that which RBM promised and we will add it up once it’s in our account.”
About K3 billion of the government contribution was used for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and K2.4 billion went to local government councils for their response.
The initial plan launched in April allocated a lion’s share of K92.4 billion to protection and social support followed by food security with a K16.5 billion allocation.
The breakdown showed that coordination has an allocation of about K332.4 million, health cluster K15.4 billion, water, sanitation and hygiene cluster K11.9 billion.
Following the revision, it means that an additional K97 billion will go towards agriculture, nutrition and coordination at local government level.
As of yesterday, Malawi had 369 Covid-19 positive cases, including four deaths and 51 recoveries.
The initial response plan also highlighted inadequate early warning and surveillance systems for many disasters, including disease outbreaks and inadequate transport and communication facilities impeding dissemination of early warning messages, rapid assessments, verifications and emergency response as some of the challenges facing Malawi.
During one of the Covid-19 situation updates, Minister of Health Jappie Mhango said 50 000 people could die in the country if the virus persisted for a year.
He said a mathematical model indicated that the pandemic could affect 85 percent of the country’s population, an equivalent of 16 million people. Malawi’s population is 17.6 million, according to the 2018 Population and Housing Census conducted by the National Statistical Office.
In his address when he declared a State of Disaster in the wake of Covid-19 on March 20, President Peter Mutharika directed that K15 billion be set aside for the fight. Treasury has disbursed K7.4 billion, where K3 billion was used for PPE procurement and K2.4 billion went to local councils.