HEALTH Minister Joseph Kasonde has disclosed that the Government spends about US $1 million annually to evacuate patients abroad for specialized treatment.
Dr Kasonde said in view of the colossal sums of money involved, he has been in support of the abolishment of sending patients outside the country to receive specialized treatment but that could only be possible if Zambia was able to treat certain medical conditions.
Dr Kasonde said this when he officiated at the planning launch for the 2015 to 2017 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2015 Budget preparation in Lusaka yesterday.
“As you know, we are talking of something like a million US Dollars a year on sending patients abroad and we are obliged to do that because we know that in some cases we are unable to treat certain conditions, particularly child heart surgery and so we must ask other people to do it for us.
“But at the same time we must challenge ourselves, why do we have to be doing that? Can we not bring this back into our own country? What are the ways by which we could do that? And if those ways can be found, what’s the cost? What’s the framework to allow us to achieve that?” he asked.
Dr Kasonde said medical training institutions were important in human resource administration and thus the funding allocated to those institutions needed to be revisited.
He said if the country expected to have good quality medical practitioners such as nurses, doctors and laboratory scientists, among others, there was need to sacrifice resources towards that goal.
He said the formula of allocating resources needed to be reviewed so that it could be responsive to the needs of the country.
Dr Kasonde observed that there had been a significant increase in the number of skilled health workers saying it was unacceptable and did not make arithmetical sense for the country to continue with the same number of medical staff when Zambia’s population was at four million.