Mzuzu, June 5, 2014: Chairperson for Gender Coordination Network Emma Kaliya says Malawi needs national identification cards (IDs) for its citizens to reduce pressure on the health sector by foreigners who come to the country for free medical services.
“The issue of IDs has become a talk show with a lot of adverts on the radio about the issue but nothing tangible seems to be done about the issue,” Kaliya said in an interview recently.
She said the country’s population is 15 million but when it comes to accessing social services like medical treatment in public hospitals the number goes up to 17 million because of foreigners near the border districts.
Kaliya added that the neighboring countries like Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania have ID systems which put strict laws to foreigners to access social services.
“When Malawians travel to other countries and fall sick, they struggle to get medical help in public hospitals because in those countries they use IDs to seek medical help,” she said.
“Malawians’ hard earned money is what these foreigners are robbing from the country because it is through their taxes that some of the medications in the country’s hospitals are bought,” Kaliya added.
Kaliya then called on Malawians to support the national registration exercise underway aimed at enabling nationals to have IDs, among other things.
Executive Director for Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) Martha Kwataine echoed Kaliya’s sentiments.
Kwataine said according to a research conducted by MHEN, 40 to 60 per cent of people that seek medical help in border districts are foreigners. She said the current situation is a set back to the health sector.
“Our health sector is already under funded and with the foreigners flooding the county to seek medical help, it is insufficient to benefit all Malawians,” she said.
According to the Immigration Department, an estimated 1, 000 illegal immigrants enter Malawi weekly translating to about 52,000 a year.