Reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health organisations in the country have petitioned the Ministry of Health to update the essential medicines list if the country is to prevent women from dying from pregnancy and childbirth complications.
The Malawi Government made a global commitment in 2012 to protect women, newborns and children from preventable causes of death by increasing access to critical medicines and health supplies with 13 commodities recommended by the United Nations.
On Friday, Health and Rights Education Programme executive director Maziko Matemba led other organisations such as United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Family Planning Association of Malawi (Fpam), Mothers2Mothers and National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives to petition the Ministry of Health.
The organisations want the ministry to incorporate the missing 13 UN commodities, which include injectable antibiotics, resuscitation devices, contraceptive implants and misoprostol which prevents and treat postpartum bleeding.
Other commodities are amoxillin to treat pneumonia, emergency contraceptives, female condoms and antenatal corticosteroids.
Said Matemba: “A skilled birth attendant is ill equipped during delivery if there is no access to medicines and devices for mother and baby and health centres cannot save children’s lives without essential medicines.”
He added that if the essential medicines list is not amended, Malawi might lose out on global assistance in 2015 when the Millennium Development Goals come to an end and a new agenda to decreasing maternal and child mortality is in place.
Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) health services manager Elled Mwenyekondo said nursing students were learning to administer treatment commodities, which were not in the hospitals.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Chris Kang’ombe said he was aware that the essential medicines list was outdated but financing was the biggest challenge.
Kang’ombe said government was afraid of frustrations from unnecessary gaps in supply if the essential medicines list was updated with the current funding challenges.