Malawi receives a consignment of essential drugs
By Kusali Kubwalo
Lilongwe, 6 January 2012: Malawi received the first of a $33m consignment of primary health care essential drugs under the Essential Drugs Project. This is a collaboration between the governments of UK, US, German and Norway Governments. The project is aimed at addressing the widespread shortages of essential drugs and in the longer-term, the Essential ensure that longer term reform efforts are undertaken and future shortages avoided.
Receiving the drugs on behalf of the Malawi Government, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Dr. Ken Lipenga, M.P. said Government is grateful for the role the donor community is playing in improving the lives of women and children. “We are aware that there are concerns on the performance of the Central Medical Stores and we are very committed to ensuring that the on-going reforms are a success.” The Finance Minister explained that this support will free up resources that will be used to recapitalise the Central Medical Stores.
Deputy Minister of Health, Ralph Jooma described the project as a timely and valuable assistance but urged district level officials to ensure that communities benefit from the drugs. “We will not tolerate any abuse or pilferages. Anyone found to be misusing the drugs for whatever purpose will be dealt with accordingly.”
And speaking on behalf of the partners, DFID Head Sarah Sanyahumbe appreciated the role government has played in supporting the project. Sanyahumbe however urged government to support the distribution of the drugs to ensure that the drugs reach end user health facilities. “We need 3,000L a week to enable us deliver the drugs to health centres. Due to the fuel shortage in the country, we have problems sourcing fuel for the distribution. We therefore urge government to help us in in this regard,” explained the DFID Head.
Malawi has a shortage of forex that has affected its procurement of essential commodities like fuel and forex. Under this 18 month project, The UK through the DFID will contribute about USD 16 million, while Norway and Germany will add USD 10 million and USD 7 million, respectively. UNICEF will procure the medicines in two phases, with the first consignment arriving in the country on 6 January 2012. USAID, through the DELIVER PROJECT, will manage in-country storage and distribution of the medicines to as many as 640 hospitals and health centres throughout the country.
It is expected that the medicines and supplies under this procurement will, among other interventions, enable health authorities to treat up to 1.5 million episodes of diarrhoea, 1 million episodes of acute respiratory infections, and 264,000 episodes of malaria during the 18 month period. These three diseases, it has to be noted, account for more than half of all child deaths in Malawi. In addition, up to 600,000 pregnant women will be supplied with micronutrient supplements and medication to enable them to have a safer delivery.