The Zambia Medical Association of Zambia is worried that the depreciation of the Kwacha may lead to the exodus of doctors to other countries.
A couple of years ago, Zambia witnessed this sad development when doctors left the country to seek better conditions of service elsewhere.
In US dollar terms the salaries for doctors in the civil service have reduced by over 50%.
Association President Aaron Mujajati said this no longer compares favourably with countries like Botswana and South Africa that used to attract Zambian doctors.
Dr Mujajati said his Association does not wish to see a repeat of such a phenomenon but warned government that if urgent corrective measures are not taken to stabilize the Kwacha and restore its buying power, there will be dire consequences for the health sector.
‘Our members who operate private hospitals and clinics are struggling to keep their doors open as most of their consumables are imported,’ Dr Mujajati said.
‘They will most like pass on the costs to consumers by increasing prices in order to remain in business. We are alive to government public assurances and measures undertaken by the Central Bank to address the current developments in the foreign exchange markets.’
Dr Mujajati said the Association urges government not to relax its efforts in this regard constantly bearing in mind that a lot depends on them.
He said the nation needs to know that there are significant investments underway in the health sector requiring constant vigilance on the part of government and organizations such as ours.
‘Any disturbance or detour in this respect could lead to tragic reversals in the gains so far made in the treatment of many diseases,’ he said.
From this and many other perspectives, the developments in the foreign exchange markets cease to be purely economic but social matters requiring the involvement of all in exerting necessary pressure on government to keep seeking solutions.
‘As we advise government on this subject, we also wish to urge our members who are already feeling the effects of an eroded kwacha to remain calm and together with the Zambian people and government bear the hardships which we hope do not linger too long.’