Govt dismisses plans to introduce fees in public hospitals

Written by  Mary Kadewere.

Ministry of Health has dismissed assertions of its intentions to introduce user fees in government public hospitals as it has been circulating in the media.

Dr Jean Kalirani addressing the press Dr Jean Kalirani addressing the press

Clarifying the matter at a press briefing in Lilongwe Responsible Minister, Dr. Jean Kalilani noted the rumours have created confusion among the public and civil society organisations.

She explained that the system has already been in existence in all Central Hospitals where they have user-fee paying service sections but now it is being explored whether such service sections can be rolled out to other public hospitals.

“I must say clearly here that we do not have any intentions to ask people to pay for health services. Our proposal is to have more people on medical insurance and access paying services in public hospitals. We have observed the debates around this issue and we want to inform the general public that any debate that ensues on user fees is invalid and may not contribute to the final outcome of our proposed reforms,” Kalilani said.

The Minister said this is the third area of reform under the Ministry of Health; to revitalise Medical Insurance Schemes in the country and plans to have as many people as possible and those that can afford to be on a Medical Insurance scheme.

“This will ensure that all those with Medical Insurances can ably access fee paying Health Services across the country using their medical insurances. This will mean that people will have more options for accessing health services but also on the part of health service providers,” she said.

Once implemented, the system will create an opportunity to decongest public hospitals as some people will opt for fee paying services whereby they will use their medical insurances.

She said government is exploring the possibility of extending fee paying sections in public facilities so that they work side by side with non-paying sections to enable those without medical insurance and preferring to access free services to continue.

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