Nkhoma Mission Hospital in Lilongwe has, effective today, suspended provision of free services to pregnant women and under-five children due to failure by Ministry of Health (MoH) to pay for the services.
The hospital, owned by Nkhoma Synod of the Church of the Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) and a member of Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham), is one of the reliable health facilities in the country and has been offering the free services since 2006.
Nkhoma Hospital was the first Cham institution to enter into a service level agreement (SLA) with MoH to provide the free services.
Nkhoma Synod general secretary the Reverend Vasco Kachipapa said on Monday in a statement the hospital has been forced to stop the agreement, but was ready to resume once outstanding debts are paid.
But in an interview yesterday, MoH spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe attributed the ministry’s failure to honour payment to the hospital, including other Cham facilities, to unrealistic bills, among factors.
He said: “Some of the factors have been low levels of funding, so we have not been able to service the payment.
“On the other hand, some of the bills required to be scrutinised properly because some institutions took advantage and then sometimes they have unnecessarily exorbitant, not realistic [bills].”
Since the agreement started in 2006, Nkhoma Hospital had seen a marked reduction in maternal deaths from 31 in 2008 to six last year.
Besides Nkhoma Hospital, similar SLA deals are also provided at Nkhoma and Malingunde Health Centre in Lilongwe District, Mvera Health Centre in Dowa and at Chinthembwe Health Centre in Ntchisi while Mangochi District has Malembo Health Centre. n