Britain Promises More Health Aid To Malawi

The British Government has announced urgent support for the Malawian health system to prevent the cancellation of vital vaccination and bed net programmes, Malawi Voice has learnt.

The announcement was made by UK Secretary of State for International Development Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, MP on Friday.

In a press release issued jointly by the British High Commission and DFID Malawi in Lilongwe, Mitchell said that Britain will provide a total of £30 million to Malawi. This comprises £10 million in urgent funding for the Malawian health system and £20 million to help stabilize the Malawian economy with all funding coming from the UK’s existing aid budget in Malawi.

Malawi Voice learns that the UK has already agreed to provide £110 million (US$168 million) over five years through the Malawi Health Sector Programme (MHSP), in support of the Government of Malawi’s (GOM) five year health sector strategy, the Health Sector Strategic Plan 2011-2016 (HSSP).

The statement says Britain will also bring forward previously-agreed funding to help the new President, Joyce Banda, to continue with a positive reform programme in the face of economic turmoil which is threatening to engulf the country.

“The International Development Secretary has agreed with the Governor of the Bank of England for a British economic official to be drafted in to help the Government of Malawi deal with the effects of devaluing the kwacha,” reads part of the statement.

President Banda is said to have welcomed Britain’s commitment to Malawi saying she was looking forward to discussing her future plans with Andrew Mitchell in more detail.

British emergency funding for the Malawian health system will purchase malaria and TB drugs, therapeutic feeding for malnourished children and training equipment for new health workers. It will also support services delivered by the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM).

Mitchell, said: “I am encouraged by President Banda’s early progress in office. She has put the people of Malawi right at the centre of her Government’s programme and she is listening to the sensible advice from the IMF about how to get the economy back on its feet.

“I called President Banda to tell her that Britain will support Malawi’s Health Ministry and the Christian Health Association of Malawi to ensure that vital services are taken off the ‘at risk’ list and are delivered for the people of Malawi.”

He said Britain will bringing forward financial support to help the Malawian economy following devaluation and the Governor of the Bank of England has kindly agreed to provide technical assistance on the same.

Reacting to the announcement, President Banda said: “We welcome this much needed support from the UK for health and to support the economic recovery of Malawi. This support is provided at a critical time for Malawi and will help to manage the impact on the poor and most vulnerable.

 “I look forward to welcoming the Secretary of State for International Development to Malawi in the near future and to discussing the future of UK aid in Malawi with him.”

The statement further said Mitchell will travel to Malawi at the end of the month to meet President Banda in person and have detailed discussions with her and her Ministers on further support to help stabilize the economy and how Britain can help drive through the necessary reforms across areas such as education and health and to help boost the private sector.

Britain has a long and deep friendship with the people of Malawi. In the past two years alone, UK support has provided food security for over 3.5 million people, of which almost two million are women; improved access to emergency drugs for 200,000 people.

The British government suspended budget support to Malawi last year after deceased former president Bingu wa Mutharika failed to address concerns over economic management and governance. As a result, British funding earmarked for general budget support has been rerouted via NGOs working on the ground with poor Malawians.

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