The call comes after the ministry of health issued a communication allowing public hospitals to buy 10% of medical supplies from private pharmaceuticals when not available at Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST).
Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe told Zodiak online the move is to avert problems of drug shortages in the public health facilities.
“While we have a policy that all public hospitals buy medical supplies from CMST, we have now allowed them to buy from private pharmaceuticals, supplies that are not available at CMST.
They are only allowed to buy 10% of the medical supplies, and this we have done to ensure service delivery is not interrupted because of a shortage of drugs. We will do this until CMST restocks the supplies.”
However, while commending government for the move, Malawi Health Equity Network (MEHN) and the Society of Medical Doctors in Malawi (SMD) advise that without proper tracking mechanisms, some public health facilities may deliberately choose not to buy from CMST which will bring problems.
The two stakeholders advocated for the move.
SMD President Dr. Victor Mithi told us this will indeed help address the shortage of drugs in hospitals.
“Previously the public hospitals’ hands were tied because you could find that they have the money but could not buy from elsewhere. So, they could have patients dying because they don’t have drugs.”
According to Dr. Mithi, the 10% waver could be negotiated based on the performance of the current arrangement.
“For now, I think the 10% is okay. We need to see how they are performing on this and if they perform well, we can now start advocating for an increased amount.”
Concurring with Dr. Mithi, Malawi Health Equity Network MEHN executive director George Jobe recommends that strict measures should be put in place to avoid abuse of the waver.
“There should be a good system to ensure that if the medicines are available at CMST it should not be avoided and go to the private pharmacies.” Said Jobe.
He added regulations should be strictly enforced to avoid disadvantaging CMST.
In recent years, CMST has struggled to satisfy the supply of medical materials to public hospitals.