By Morton Sibale
Lilongwe September 26, Mana; Malawi Health Equity Network and the Action Aid Malawi have bemoaned low allocation to the health sector, saying it was affecting the completion of the construction of health facilities whose projects have been running for a number of years.
The organizations made the observation in their presentation during a Public Hearing on Social Sector allocations in the 2020/2021 National Budget, organized by Parliament at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Friday.
Paul Kwengwere, who made the presentation on behalf of the two organizations cited projects such as the Cancer Centre in Lilongwe and Phalombe District Hospital as some of the projects that could benefit from increased allocation to the health sector in the 2020/2021 budget.
“Our key take from this year’s budget is that allocation to the health sector is low with only nine percent, which is against the Abuja Declaration which demands that 15 percent of the total budget be allocated to health. With such a low allocation, it will again be difficult to complete some of the projects that have been running for some time,” he noted.
Kwengwere added that though the funding was low, appropriate utilization of the allocated resources and ensuring that the resources are not abused could help in ensuring that the projects are completed and that the delivery of health services in the country improves.
‘It is our belief that if the resources are appropriately used and not diverted to other sectors, we can reach a milestone. For instance, last year, allocation to the Cancer Centre indicated an amount for the procurement of equipment and the same has been done again this year which raises questions on whether last year’s allocation was appropriately used,’ he added.
Chairperson of the Budget Committee of Parliament, Gladys Ganda said parliamentarians have taken note of all the concerns raised, and that they would liaise with the Ministry of Finance to implement the recommendations when necessary.
‘The concerns and the solutions raised are short-term, medium-term and long term. We have taken note of all the concerns and the suggested solutions. When we resume sitting on Monday, we will take on board what the stakeholders have presented. We will also present some of the suggestions to the Ministry of Finance for appropriate action,” she said.
Commenting on the issue of projects that are yet to be completed despite continued budgetary allocations, Speaker of Parliament; Catherine Gotani Hara said it was the responsibility of all stakeholders to support Parliament in monitoring of such projects when funds are allocated.
‘We do not just need to pass the budget and wait until another budget is presented to check if financed projects were implemented. Once resources are allocated various sectors, we all need to support Parliament in ensuring that these resource are being appropriately utilized,” she said. .
The Public Hearing was organized in conjunction with UNICEF, USAID and the National Democratic Institute, to provide a platform for the public to contribute to the 2020/2021 National Budget as presented by the Finance Minister.