The Government of India says Malawi could treat at least 40 percent of referral cases it sends to India if the country’s public hospitals had adequate medical equipment and specialist care.
Indian High Commissioner Suresh Kumar Menon was speaking at Mzuzu Central Hospital yesterday when his government donated medical equipment worth $500 000 (about K368 million).
He said: “The general perception among our doctors in India is that 40 to 50 percent of patients Malawi sends to India do not even need to go there. There is treatment available here. It is just a question of proper diagnosis and capacity building.”
Menon said his government has since put in place measures to help Malawi reduce its referrals to India by donating medical equipment and offering scholarships to medical personnel for specialist training as well as short courses for capacity building.
He said such initiatives should help Malawi, which he said is struggling financially, to cut costs in funding trips for patients to India.
“There is need to address the requirement of people in rural areas as well. We are in touch with various hospitals, giving them a particular area to focus on. The intention is to reduce costs in sending patients to India which is very expensive,” said the envoy.
On his part, Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi said government has put in place several measures to ensure that all patients are treated locally in the quest to attain Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Three on universal health coverage.
He said the India Government has trained several cardiologists and oncology surgeons and also offered scholarships to 20 clinicians to do specialist medical training in India.
Said Muluzi: “As a country, we are also in the process of completing the first cancer centre which will be a centre of excellence within the Malawi health sector. We also now have the Mercy James Paediatric Centre at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.”
The minister added that the development of such centres of excellence signifies that by collaborating with governments such as that of India, Malawi can do more to reduce costs of referrals.