Malawi suffers from shortages of essential drugs. A 2012 Oxfam report found that only nine percent of local health facilities (54 of 585) had the full Essential Health Package list of drugs for treating 11 common diseases. Clinics were often out of basic antibiotics, HIV test kits and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Additional news reports indicate that public hospitals had run out of 95 percent of essential medicines by the end of January.
Doctors from Kamuzo Central Hospital wrote a letter to Malawi’s president, Joyce Banda, call for a solution to the shortages. She responded by meeting with health department officials. Several reasons were suggested for the lack of medical supplies. During the meeting doctors blamed the centralized health delivery system. The UK Department for International Development had stated that it was not only the Central Medical Stores that were of shortage, but a lack of funding for necessary drugs. Furthermore, in May 2012, President Banda devalued Malawi’s currency–the kwacha– by fifty percent, triggering steep increases in the price of basic goods. This impoverished Malawians even more.
Malawi’s treasury has released $2 million, half of which will be used for emergency drug procurement. The other half will be used to help district and central hospitals settle outstanding debts with medical suppliers.
“Malawi’s never-ending drug shortage problem,” IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis, February 19, 2013, http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97503/Malawi-s-never-ending-drug-shortage-problem
Shenard Mazengera, “Missing Medicines in Malawi: Campaigning against stock-outs of essential drugs,” Oxfam, May 30, 2012, http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/missing-medicines-in-malawi-campaigning-against-stock-outs-of-essential-drugs-226732
Student Researcher: Cassie Lowe, College of Marin
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman, College of Marin