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Malawi Accusing Foreigners to flood their govt hospitals

Discussion in 'JF Doctor' started by Ndahani, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. Ndahani

    Ndahani JF-Expert Member

    Nov 16, 2009
    Joined: Jun 3, 2008
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    Written by Mana
    Friday, 13 November 2009

    The influx of patients from neighbouring Tanzania, Zambia Mozambique seeking treatment in Malawi hospitals is putting pressure on limited local medical resources.

    State-run Malawi News Agency (Mana) has reported that the Ministry of Health and Population is worried with foreigners who are receiving medical treatment in the country’s public health facilities.

    Health and Population Deputy Minister Teleza Gloria Mwale expressed the concern during her familiarisation tour to Chitipa District Hospital last Thursday.

    Mwale was responding to the District Health Officer (DHO), Burton Jere’s remarks when he highlighted congestion in wards as some of the challenges facing the hospital.

    Jere blamed the problem largely on the influx of foreign patients from Tanzania and Zambia, who flood wards at the hospital and access free health services.

    Mwale said there was urgent need to devise a mechanism on how to keep foreign patients away from hospitals and other health facilities.

    She observed that besides contributing to congestion in wards, the foreigners were depleting medical resources meant for Malawians.

    “These foreign patients crowd our health facilities because our government is providing free health care services. There are no free services in some of their countries.”

    She said the hospitality that Malawians are identified with should not disadvantage the locals.

    The deputy minister said the tricky part is that patients from across the borders are not budgeted for.

    Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), a group of civil society organisations which promote equity and equality of health for all people in Malawi, has backed the government’s stand.

    MHEN Executive Director Martha Kwataine said her organisation would support the ministry’s plan to do away with the good will extended to foreigners.

    She believes it will be Malawians who will bear the brunt when drugs are short supply.

    “If the health services are provided to our neighbours as a way of promoting our bilateral relationship, then it is done in a wrong way because it is one sided. It is only benefiting our colleagues who are running away from paying for health services in their countries, ” she said.

    Mwale then directed that all patients must be seriously screened before receiving treatment.

    “Le me take this opportunity to urge you officials here to be tabling these issues during international forums with your counterparts from Zambia and Tanzania so that our neighbours also learn to provide essential health care systems,” said Mwale.

    Meanwhile, MHEN is planning to conduct a survey to find out the impact of foreigners accessing medical services on the local health system.

    Kwataine said the result of the survey would be the basis for her organization to lobby government to revise its policy on the issue.