The Ministry of Health (MoH) says the introduction of by-pass fees in some of the country’s referral hospitals has promoted efficiency and helped central hospitals to take care of minor financial issues when conventional funding delays or is inadequate.
Spokesperson for Ministry of Health Adrian Chikumbe said the bypass fee has also helped to provide required specialist care and treatment to a number of deserving patients.
Chikumbe said the by-pass fee was introduced as a control measure to help ease off unnecessary congestion and the work of medical personnel at referral hospital. He said a central hospital is a tertiary referral hospital meant to serve those that have been referred from the district hospital. However, these medical personnel get overwhelmed with cases which could have been easily and effectively treated at a health centre hence, the introduction of the by-pass fee.
The current health care delivery system according to the Malawi Health Sector Strategic Plan for 2011 – 2016, when one gets sick, they are expected to get treated at a health centre which is the primary health institution. If necessary, the patient is referred to a district hospital which is our secondary institution.
However, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) the country’s biggest referral hospital, is yet to start implementing the by-pass fee system.
QECH Assistant Spokesperson and deputy hospital administrator Chikumbutso Tambala said strategies are being put in place for the smooth implementation of the system.
“We are strategizing with our colleagues from Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe to learn more on the system and we are also working on a policy that will help us in handling finances realized through the system,” said Tambala.
Zomba, KCH and Mzuzu Central Hospitals already started implementing the system which was introduced as part of the Malawi Health Sector Reforms.