A group of donors supporting Zambia’s health sector has warned that the current global political climate does not guarantee the continuation of their support to Zambia.
The cooperating partners say ongoing funding levels should not be expected in the current global political climate.
Businessman Donald Trump who was last Friday inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States signalled intentions to prioritise American interests which many fear might result in aid cuts.
In the UK, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Parliament must vote on whether the government can start the Brexit process.
The judgement means Theresa May’ Conservative Government cannot begin talks with the EU until MPs and peers give their backing – although this is expected to happen in time for the government’s 31 March deadline.
British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet said strong leadership by the Zambian government that increases domestic investment in health and maintains the push for greater efficiency to achieve better value for money is required to consolidate gains in the health sector, and meet Zambia’s global health commitments.
Mr Cochrane-Dyet said an analysis of some of the inevitable challenges and risks encountered during the year will help us in our prioritization and planning for 2017 and beyond.
Mr Cochrane-Dyet was speaking on behalf of Cooperating Partners that are supporting Zambia’s health sector at the Health Sector Annual Consultative Meeting in Lusaka on Tuesday.
“The successes outlined above are even more remarkable when considered against the context of a change of government and the economic downturn in Zambia that adversely impacted all sectors, including the health sector,” he said.
“It is to be noted that partners are investing approximately the same budget envelope as the government of Zambia in the health sector. Ongoing parity in funding should however not be expected in the current global political climate.”
The cooperating partners also raised serious concerns over drug stock outs in Zamia in 2016.
“The patchy availability of drugs at health facilities remained matters of grave concern to partners in 2016. Zambians have the right to expect essential lifesaving medicines administered by skilled staff as a normal part of accessing health care,” Mr Cochrane-Dyet.
He said partners worked with the Ministry to direct programme savings and other resources to address gaps in essential medicines and supplies, particularly for malaria and HIV/AIDS.
“Partners however are troubled by the auditor general’s report confirming that the drug debt persisted through the year and by November 2016 was back at the 2015 level. Reports of expired drugs and leakage across Zambia’s borders compound existing issues. We are also unclear about the current procurement gaps for 2017 against national drugs, family planning and nutrition commodities forecasts,” he said.
Mr Cochrane-Dyet said procurement of medicines and medical supplies and the pharmaceutical supply chain is a major area of investment with approximately $175 million being invested across partners.
He said the Ministry led procurement and supply chain planning retreat in March 2017 will be critical to gain a common understanding of bottlenecks and establish a work plan and monitoring framework towards improved management of the health sector procurement and supply chain.