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Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 4 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the implementation of the health sector support plan for Malawi. (81787)

Progress with Malawi health sector-wide approach (SWAp) is reviewed jointly, twice a year by Government and donors, of whom DFID is the largest with a commitment of £100 million over six years.

Progress has been good. In addition to the earlier successes of the eradication of polio and the elimination of neonatal tetanus and the increasing distribution of bed nets and their re-treatment (up from 7 per cent. in 2002 to 71 per cent. in 2004-05), the health service has taken on a rapid increase in antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS. 50 sites have treated 46,000 people up from 3,000 two years ago. This is making a real difference: both saving lives and improving the quality of life of those living with HIV and AIDS.

Critical to this success has been the additional resources made available at hospital and clinic level as a result of the increased aid channelled through the health SWAp. The Emergency Human Resources Programme has in its first year recruited an extra 580 Malawian health professionals. There are 60 volunteer specialists and nurse tutors from overseas filling key vacant posts. The intake of Malawian trainee nurses and doctors has been increased in anticipation of the improvements in infrastructure at training schools that are now under way. New, internationally recruited senior managers have taken over the central medical stores management and are charged with bringing to an end the perennial stock outs that have frustrated the health services. A new maternal mortality road map offers a way forward to address the unacceptably high level of maternal deaths in Malawi. The Ministry of Health is entering service level agreements with private sector providers, particularly the Christian Hospital Association of Malawi, that will also provide the basic essential health package free-of-charge at point of delivery.

We are encouraging the Government of Malawi to plan for universal access for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment and to address the further human resources and management requirements that will create. We stand ready to help.