Britain buys Malawi emergency drugs despite aid freeze

01 April 2014 - 14:19 By AFP
Pills. File photo.
Pills. File photo.
Image: Thinkstock

Britain, whose aid to Malawi is frozen because of high-level government corruption, has said it will buy emergency medicines for the impoverished country directly in order to bypass state systems.

"We cannot give financial aid through the government and will deliver assistance to ordinary Malawians through other means," Britain's Department for International Development said in a statement late Monday.

International donors, which provide 40 percent of Malawi's budget, pulled the plug on vital aid worth around $150 million (110 million euros) last year after it emerged that millions had been siphoned off from government coffers.

Britain will buy $26 million worth of drugs and other medical items directly from the suppliers and get them delivered straight to Malawi's central government medical stores.

The 1,100 tonnes of medicines will be distributed to 600 public clinics over 18 months.

"These drugs will allow millions of ordinary Malawians to continue to get the health and medical care they need," Justine Greening, Britain's secretary of state for international development, said in the statement.

In February, a report by British auditors -- commissioned by President Joyce Banda -- showed that $30 million had been stolen from the government within a six-month period last year.

Britain said it "remains deeply concerned by the breadth and depth of corruption revealed" in the audit.

The so-called Cashgate scheme is the biggest financial scandal in the history of the country, which heavily depends of foreign aid.