District health officers (DHOs) on Tuesday challenged officials from Treasury and Ministry of Health (MoH) to tell Parliament’s Health Committee the amount of funding given to district hospitals for procuring drugs.
During the meeting at Parliament Building in Lilongwe, Parliamentary Committee on Health brought face-to-face four DHOs, officials from Treasury, MoH, Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) and several other observers to discuss issues of drug shortage and pilferage.
Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani informed the committee that Parliament appropriated K16.7 billion in the last financial year and all money was given to DHOs and central hospitals.
But Blantyre DHO Medson Matchaya said the information contradicted the situation on the ground.
He said budget ceilings for procurement of drugs were not communicated to DHOs.
In a fervent comment to the committee, Matchaya said he and fellow DHOs were working under difficult circumstances, especially when the Capital Hill officials had told Malawians that hospitals were fully funded.
DHOs have maintained that they were not funded for the month of June.
But Mangani denied saying all DHOs were given adequate funding for drugs. He said his press statement earlier this month was in reference to donor funds from Norway which came to an end in April this year and DHOs received a top-up of K434 million but for other operations not drugs.
On his part, secretary for Health Macphail Magwira did not respond to the allegations made by the DHOs, but said during a meeting on August 4 and 5, the drug budget was not an issue but challenges in the supply chain system.
Earlier, CMST chief executive officer Feston Kaupa confirmed that DHOs were not aware of invoices billed to National Local Government Finance Committee.
“We noted that this was an oversight and we have made a commitment to make these available in the future,” he said.