WHO country representative Dr. Felicitas Zawaira made the remarks on Thursday in Lilongwe during the opening of a two-day National Symposium on Sustainable Financing for Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Newborn and Child Health in Malawi: Where are we and where are we headed?
Zawaira said it is unfortunate that many African countries have up to now relied mainly on partners to provide family planning commodities, making it difficult to sustain them.
She said: “To me, it is like entrusting a countryâ€™s army in the hands of a foreigner! As we sit here, it is still unclear as to what proportion of our health expenditure goes to address the Millennium Development Goals 4 or 5 intervention.
“From time to time, National Health Accounts (NHAs) are done with sub-accounts in child and reproductive health. This is something that needs to be supported and institutionalised in the Ministry of Health, but that information should be fed to health advocates such as our parliamentarians.”
Zawaira noted that while Malawi has been providing free health-care services since independence in 1964, in reality, the cost could be high because of the long distances people have to travel to the nearest health facilities and the long waiting times.
United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) leader of health Miriam Lutz said Malawi is still working to reach the Abuja target of 15 percent of government health expenditures for health with recent estimates, indicating that half or more of its total expenditures are financed by donors.
Deputy Minister of Health Halima Daudi admitted that maternal mortality ratio remained high at 675 per 100 000 live births.