The Ministry of Health has decried the shortage of funding for the health sector to provide all medicines and medical supplies this coming year.
Parliament allocated K69 billion to the Ministry of Health from government purse in 2014/15, but the total health expenditure was projected at K274 billion.
This was disclosed when Ministry of Health officials appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Health yesterday on the health sector funding mechanism and health sector reform programmes.
The ministry’s chief medical services director Charles Mwansambo said as a result of funding shortages, they were focusing on curing diseases not preventing them.
“We are Ministry of Health not Ministry of Disease, but if you look at funding, we are focusing on curative rather than preventive care,” he said.
It is conditions and diseases such as HIV, malaria and reproductive health that have been taking up a big chunk of the curative expenditure.
But even then, Mwansambo said, K30 billion was needed for drugs and supplies to public hospitals, but only K14.3 billion was provided in the 2014/15 financial year.
Of the K52 billion needed to maintain and replace medical equipment, only K1.1 billion was provided, which Mwansambo said was not enough.
Cashgate has also hit the sector hard because donors have opted not to use government systems to disburse funding.
Director of Policy and Planning Development Dalitso Kabambe said it was even more disheartening that although 78 percent of funding to health was coming from donors and international NGOs, most of it was deemed ‘discreet funding’
Of the K274 billion needed this year, about K151 billion was discreet funding from donors such as the United States (US), United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, but also Centre for Disease Control of the US government.
Member of Parliament for Kasungu East Madalitso Kazombo proposed that to avoid a Cashgate induced withdrawal of support, government should consider opening a separate account from Account Number One for donors contributing to the health sector to pool their funds.
But Kabambe said donors should not be blamed for the new modality of funding, but government should sort out the challenges that led to Cashgate.