The Saudi Fund for Development approved a loan amounting to $15 million (K5.5 billion) to supplement the money for the construction of the long-awaited Phalombe District Hospital.
The construction of the hospital could not start until additional financing was sought to supplement the $7 million (K2.5 billion) from the Arab Economic Development (Badea) approved in the last financial year.
“I am now pleased to report that the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development approved the proposed loan to supplement funding from Badea for the construction of the hospital,” Finance Minister Ken Lipenga told Parliarment last week.
He noted that soon, officials from the Malawi Government will meet the Saudi Fund to negotiate the terms of the loan. Thereafter, details shall be submitted to Parliament as a Loan Authorisation Bill for approval before signing the agreement.
The construction of the hospital stalled for years and has been a bone of contention for a long time.
Apart from Phalombe Health Centre, which has served the district for a number of years, people also seek their medical services at Holy Family Mission Hospital, a Christian Health Association of Malawi (Cham) member, in the district.
Mid last year, traditional, political and religious leaders in Phalombe asked government to construct a district hospital because people travel long distance to seek health services.
Paramount Chief Mkhumba was quoted as complaining that since the district was declared an administrative headquarters, government has been promising to build a new district hospital.
“People who are sick in the district travel long distances to Mulanje to access specialised treatment,” said Mkhumba.
Phalombe has remained without a public district hospital for over a decade after being declared a district.
Formerly, the district was part of Mulanje, before former president Bakili Muluzi declared it a district.
A district hospital is one of the many key requirements for a district.