Female members of Malawi Parliament have said they will not pass the 2013/14 National Budget if it does not include an allocation for family planning services.
Speaking last week in Lilongwe during a USaid-funded meeting of chairpersons of parliamentary committees, the deputy chairperson of Population and Health Committee, Grace Chiumia, said family planning budget allocation is critical to achievement of the country’s development aspirations and attainment of UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“We will not pass the budget if it does not have such an allocation because family planning services are key to the various challenges the country is facing at the moment,” she said.
The committees’ chairpersons were meeting on commitments which the Malawi delegation to Southern and Eastern Africa Parliamentary Committees of Health (Seapacoh) in Uganda made last year, to ensure that the health budget is increased to 15 percent and that there is a specific budget allocation for contraceptives.
Health and Population Committee chairperson Paul Chibingu said the women caucus’ stance on the 2013/14 National Budget is justified because high population growth has turned the MPs into community social workers instead of working as representatives of the constituents in the august House.
“Most parliamentarians are no longer MPs. Their work is now ferrying people to hospitals and buying coffins in funerals because high population growth has worsened poverty and put a lot of pressure on resources. Our vehicles have become ambulances,” said Chibingu.
USaid family health cluster lead Ruth Madison said Malawi’s population of the current about 15 million will tripple to about 40 million in 2040 if provision of family planning services is not increased; hence worsening all the challenges the country is already facing.
“The budget for family planning is really important. Those between the ages of 15 and 24 are currently, not covered in family planning programmes,” said Madison.