Malawi is among the best Sub-Saharan African Countries striving around the clock in investing a lot in human resource development. No wonder the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking for Malawi is improving from down in 2005 (with HDI figure of 0.336) to 153th nation among the 169 nations compared worldwide in 2010 (with HDI figure of 0.385), beating other stable nations like Guinea, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. 2010 UNDP report shows that health sector was among the highest sectors in Malawi which were rated highest in HDI with 0.548 (http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/MWI.html )
In the health sector, there are various activities currently implemented as planned aiming at improving not only the front line paramedics but also medical specialists and sub-specialists. Since 2004, the public health system in the country has seen fellow Malawian Medical Doctors taking over the specialized and sub-specialized positions which were dominated by the expatriates including oncologist and nephrologist, thanks to the Emergency Human Resource Plan (2004-2010) of the Ministry of Health through joint health SWAp.
Although the health delivery system in the country was almost collapsing in 2002 to 2003 financial years when the doctor to patient ratio was 1: 100,000 (only 43 medical doctors); however, there has been tremendous improvement increasing the ratio to 2:100,000 (265 medical doctors) in 2010. By the end of 2010, the MOH records were showing that more than 100 Malawian Medical Doctors who were already recruited in the public health system were either specializing or sub-specializing within the country or abroad, including far-east on courtesy of the Malawi Government and her bilateral or multilateral partnerships. The author happens to be one of the beneficiaries of this recommendable responsibility of the Malawi Government.
The Ministry of Health is optimistic that all those doctors in diaspora, pursuing further studies would immediately come back to fill up the longstanding vacancies after their respective academic accreditation.
On the other hand, the private health sector is also supporting the Malawi Government efforts in this regard by among others, offering scholarships to Malawian Medical Doctors working in their system. There have been substantive number of Malawian Doctors pursuing various specialties and sub-specialties from non-governmental organizations like John Hopkins Project and University of North Carolina (UNC) Project. Therefore, this may be regarded as one of the best key milestones in the history of the Malawi Health Delivery System showering imminent hopes for sustainability of the high tech medical care in the country.
However, the million dollar question is how ready is the public health delivery system able to fully accommodate and equip the health facilities with necessary up-to-date high medical technologies in order to stand against the test of time in this dynamic medical world?
How prepared is the Ministry of Health in her next five or six years plan? What are pertinent issues the ministry needs to include in her next five or six years plan?
Therefore, let us brainstorm over this sensitive but inevitable-pivotal issue to highlight some insights for our dear Ministry of Health and her partners to take into account as they strategize to maintain the status quo.