by Promise Peter

Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has conceded that stocks of ess
ential drugs have reached critically low levels after dropping from 70 to 30 percent in the past year.

She acknowledged the dire situation in Lilongwe on Wednesday when she received a 165-tonne consignment of medical drugs and anti-cancer medicine from the Government of India.

Chiponda described the development as worrisome, saying it is crippling health care services in the country.

She said: “The drug levels in our stock have dropped from 70 percent to 30 percent, as such this donation is timely. The health sector is facing a lot of hardships from the effects of Covid-19, Cyclone Freddy, the cholera outbreak and other factors.

“The drug situation is affecting our aspirations of attaining universal health coverage. As a country, we cannot currently go alone to deliver health effectively.”

Chiponda has since called on development partners, including India, to help Malawi not only through donation of medicines, but also in manufacturing its own medicine.

The minister said: “We have a huge body of water which is essential in setting up pharmaceutical companies to manufacture essential drugs. We need donor support, both technical and financial, to achieve this. We can’t continue to be dependent on importing. We need to be able to manufacture essential drugs.”

She said the foreign exchange shortage and closure of borders during Covid-19 has facilitated the need to have pharmaceutical companies domestically to manufacture essential drugs.

Indian High Commissioner Shri S. Gopalakrishnan stressed his government’s commitment to seeing Malawi achieve its developmental goals.

He said: “My government is actively engaged in supporting the Government of Malawi achieve development goals through various development projects assistance.

“Today I am happy to make this donation of 165 tonnes of medicine. India development cooperation and support is human centric and based on principles of mutual respect.”

Meanwhile, health rights activist George Jobe has called for a sustainable way of resolving the drug shortage challenges.

Efforts to get comment from the Central Medical Stores Trust proved futile as their phones could not be reached.

But in May 2022 government also acknowledged a shortage of essential drugs in public health facilities in the country, which it attributed to problems in global movement of commodities due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the scarcity of forex

At the time, deputy minister of Health Enoch Phale said the stocks were at 55 percent. This would make the current levels at 30 percent, one of the lowest in history.

Reported by Splendor Nguluwe

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