Minister of Health and Population, Atupele Muluzi said his Ministry will not extend Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) services to non-communicable diseases due to limited resources.
Muluzi made the sentiments on Tuesday in the ongoing 47th 2nd meeting of Parliament.
He said currently services that are offered free of charge at CHAM facilities include maternal and neonatal services, He was responding to a question posed at him by Member of Parliament for Mchinji North East Alex Chitete, who wanted to find out whether the Service Level Agreement (SLA) which is there between the Government and CHAM hospitals could be extended to non-communicable diseases which he said are common among the population.
Muluzi said due to limited resources, the Ministry is only covering a few interventions in the Essential Health Plan (EHP).
The Health Sector Strategic Plan II (2017-2022) states that there is an intention to increase coverage of the EHP by gradually expanding the scope of SLAs with CHAM with the aim of achieving universal coverage of health services.
"Due to limited resources the Ministry is only covering a few interventions in the EHP. A study that was carried out in 2015, showed that to fully finance the essential health package in all eligible CHAM health facilities, it will require 14 million USD (over MK10 billion annually)," he said.
He added: "In the meantime, the Ministry is unable to cover the current SLA package and finances are being sourced from development partners as the Ministry has accrued a lot of debts with CHAM due to unpaid dues.
Therefore, it will be hard for the ministry to start covering for non-communicable diseases at CHAM facilities without the aid of donors." Muluzi said CHAM health facilities form an important part of the health sector in Malawi.
He said they help the Ministry achieve its Health Sector Strategic Plan objectives (HSSP) of increasing health service coverage and ensuring greater access to services across the country.
Muluzi said this is so because CHAM facilities are often based in remote, rural areas not covered by any other health facility.