Malawi Moves Toward Universal Health Coverage with an Updated Essential Health Package
November 8, 2017
Since it was introduced in 2004, Malawi’s Essential Health Package (EHP) has faced financial constraints. Failure to fully fund the EHP, particularly as new interventions were added, has resulted in the inequitable provision of services and postponed the country’s ultimate goal of achieving universal health coverage.
In response to these challenges, Malawi’s Ministry of Health—with technical assistance from the University of York—worked to revise the EHP over the past year to ensure maximum health impact given resources available, accounting for underlying changes in disease patterns, intervention costs, and available resources. An EHP Technical Working Group—which included a senior health economist seconded to the Ministry of Health from Health Policy Plus—helped establish criteria for inclusion of interventions in the EHP and advise on revisions with the aim of ensuring timely universal access to high-quality EHP services, irrespective of ability to pay, for all the people in Malawi.
The revised EHP has been incorporated into the country’s Health Sector Strategic Plan II to further improve health outcomes. Under the plan, the EHP will focus on increasing equitable access to and improve the quality of healthcare services. The EHP outlines the healthcare interventions that the government plans to guarantee availability of—free of charge to all Malawians—and is intended to contribute toward achieving universal health coverage in Malawi. As next steps, the government of Malawi, with support from HP+, is developing a health financing strategy to help mobilize resources required to deliver the EHP and close the financing gap for the implementation of the newly developed Health Sector Strategic Plan II.