The United Party for national Development (UPND) has said that the admission by the admission by Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Peter Mwaba that he is under political pressure from the PF to keep sending politicians, their friends and cronies for treatment abroad makes for very sad reading.
In a statement released to the media, UPND Chairperson for Media, Charles Kakoma said that the money that the PF Government is spending on sending people for treatment abroad can be better utilised to provide more equitable access to healthcare for all Zambian citizens.
Below is the full statement
UPND calls for quality Healthcare for ALL
The admission by Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Peter Mwaba that he is under political pressure from the PF to keep sending politicians, their friends and cronies for treatment abroad makes for very sad reading.
How much does it cost to send a patient for treatment in South Africa? A patient is usually accompanied by at least one person. Assuming the patient travels by commercial aircraft, the air ticket for 2 people will be K11,000, while an air ambulance will charge about K120,000. Ground transportation in South Africa is another cost.
The hospital bill for the patient depending on condition will be at least K3,000 per day. While the hotel bill and upkeep for accompanying person is about K2,000 per day. The average hospital stay for these VIP patients is about 14 days.
According to Dr Mwaba himself the average bill ends up totalling K3.6 million of taxpayer’s money for just one patient. Hundreds of patients, mostly those connected to the PF, are sent for treatment abroad by Government. Compare and contrast this with a simple K50,000 monthly grant to Kanyama Clinic.
Kanyama Clinic attends to over 200 hundred patients a day. How can this Government justify spending so much money sending patients abroad? Are they trying to convey a message that the lives of politicians, their families and cronies are more important than the rest of us? More important than the millions of Zambians who have no connections? We cannot continue like this. Such disparity in treatment is divisive and undermines equality and unity.
The money that the PF Government is spending on sending people for treatment abroad can be better utilised to provide more equitable access to healthcare for all Zambian citizens.
Sending patients abroad for treatment in itself is not wrong. However, using government resources for a select elite who are politically connected to be treated abroad is immoral. If such treatment is to be paid for by Government then it must be open to all citizens equally.
Zambia has one of the worst health indicators in the world. Infant and maternal mortality is very high. 45% of children under 5 years of age are stunted. Children are dying from preventable and treatable diseases and this Government has the audacity to spend at least K3.6 million per patient for treatment abroad. This is while we have a known shortage of 11,992 nurses and midwives.
The only way to compel the PF Government to stop abusing the facility of sending patients abroad is to publish clear criteria on what conditions qualify and ensure that the barriers that exist for the majority to be considered are removed. Furthermore, we must work urgently to reduce the amount of our healthcare budget spent sending patients abroad, as we are essentially funding healthcare systems in other countries rather than our own. This money must be used to improve healthcare delivery locally.
It seems perverse that currently those in the best position to find funding for their own treatment abroad are often those most likely to receive government funding. wish to be treated abroad will have to pay for themselves. Our goal is quality universal healthcare for all Zambians, regardless of their standing in society.
UPND Chairperson for Media