The Centre for Elections and Governance (CEG) Zambia has welcomed the announcement by the Swedish Embassy that they have resumed financial support to the Ministry of Health and agreed with government to take measures to safeguard public funds.
CEG Trustee Gershom Musonda said withholding of funds to the Ministry of Health by the donor community led to poor service delivery and a sense of hopelessness among ordinary citizens, especially the poor as the Ministry of Health struggled with limited government funds to provide essential services.
Mr. Musonda observed that with little resources provided by government, Zambia’s improved record on maternal and child care was also threatened.
He said it is also good that the Ministry of Health has learnt from its past mistakes and put safe measures in place to protect public funds in a transparent manner.
“We appeal to the MoH to ensure funds are used for their intended purposes. We also want to see the Ministry of Health spending a large portion of its budget on essential drugs and equipment and staff motivation, so that the quality of health service improves,” he said.
Mr. Musonda said there are also “no cost” measures that should be sustained in the Ministry of Health structures such as encouraging staff to be punctual, respecting patients rights and strengthening government’s relations with health workers unions.
He said government should also continue with the investigations of alleged abuse of funds and offices by civil servants in the Ministry of Health and other ministries.
“We appeal to the general public, especially civil servants, to heed President Rupiah Banda’s call for citizens to provide information on corrupt practices. It is ordinary citizens who know what is going on and possibly who is benefitting from organized corruption,” he said.
Mr. Musonda said his organization was impressed with the fast-track method used to probe financial abuse at the Ministry of Health where cartels were made to siphon funds through the manipulation of accounting, administrative and procurement procedures.
He said other weaknesses in the Ministry of Health included apportioning a large chunk of funds to official meetings and seminars, activities that were completely irrelevant to people’s needs.
Mr. Musonda said this is a common weakness and a deliberate policy in other ministries, where decision makers may be benefiting from the procurement on non-essential goods and services.He said government should move with the same speed it has applied in the health sector.
“We also appeal to donors to keep up with their diplomatic activism and guidance so that Zambia can achieve its vision of becoming a Middle Income and Prosperous Country by 2030,” he said.