Health Minister Honourable Dr. Chitalu Chilufya has said Zambia is perusing a transformation agenda in the health Sector where it has shifted focus to the community and has invested in stronger public health systems where primary healthcare addresses social determinants with emphasis placed on maintenance of a healthy population as an essential contributor to national development.
Giving an update on Zambia’s Health Policies at the just ended African Healthcare Summit 2017 in London on Wednesday, Dr. Chilufya said in order for Zambia to build a healthy and productive nation, the Ministry has recognised the need to rejuvenate the health systems.
The Minister also said that with the rising middle class, non-communicable diseases today cause a lot of disabilities and pre-mature deaths. For this reason, the Health Minister will present the Social Health Insurance bill before Parliament largely to mobilise resources for Primary health interventions.
He said the Ministry of Health has created a new directorate called Health Promotion, Prevention and Control to provide health promotion packages to ensure that Zambians are kept healthy and away from the common practices that cause non-communicable diseases.
“We want to create a platform to engage other players who determine the health of our people. We want to shy away from the passive position of waiting for patients to come with diseases, being hospital centric does not change maternal and child health indicators and does not improve the health of our Zambian people. We don’t want to be a Ministry of treatment; we want to be a Ministry of health,” he said.
Meanwhile during a Panel of Discussion themed “Zambia’s Health Sector Review”, Ministry of Health Director in charge of Health Promotion and Determinants of Health Dr. Kennedy Malama said the retention capacity for skilled personnel in Zambia has improved greatly and the country is attracting Doctors and Nurses from the neighbouring countries who are searching for jobs.
Dr. Malama who is also the Ministry of Health Spokesperson called on Zambian medical personnel in the diaspora to come and join the Health transformation that is taking place in Zambia.
“The retention capacity for skilled personnel in Zambia has improved greatly, now Zambia is attracting doctors from the neighbouring countries, we have doctors and nurses who are coming to ask for employment, but we also need to give an opportunity or chance to Zambians in the diaspora to come and offer a service to their people. We need to be positively biased towards Zambians to ensure they are given an opportunity. But for expatriates, those who are highly trained, the doors are opened, Zambia is willing to talk and engage them,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Health has also decentralised the internship of the training of doctors in Zambia and that young doctors will be able to be trained and mentored by specialist Doctors who have been placed in various provincial hospitals.
Dr. Malama said instead of doctors concentrating at UTH, Ndola Central and Kitwe General hospitals, almost all the provincial hospitals will be hosting intern doctors adding that Mansa, Livingstone, Katete St. Francis, Kasama and Chipata are currently intern hospitals.
“As a health sector we have been able to place specialist doctors in all these provincial hospitals we will be able to train these young doctors and mentor them, apart from these young doctors going through the process of learning, they are also going to be providing a service to our people, in a way we are expanding the scope of services and strengthening healthcare provision not only being centralised in Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola but taking the services to the provinces in the country,” he said.
Dr. Malama said the Ministry of health was at a very exciting moment because it was receiving a lot of political will from Government.
“A health population will contribute to the social economic development of the country. There is no country worldwide that has developed with a sick population so we need to ensure that the health sector is in the centre stage because once our people are health and they live longer, then our country will develop and ultimately we will even start exporting skilled personnel to the neighbouring countries and elsewhere, in turn bring foreign exchange to our country,’ he said.
He added that the issue of brain drain in Zambia has almost ceased because government has responded to improve the conditions of service of health workers and the environment to work is becoming enabling where equipment and drugs are readily available in hospitals.
And Speaking at the same Round Table, Association of Zambian Nurses UK Chirperson Racheal Mwansa got the audience’s attention when she said she and other Zambian nurses in the UK contributed to the brain drain and acute shortage of nurses in Zambia but were reversing the trend by contributing to the Health Sector in Zambia through her Organisation.
“I am currently the First Black African Zambian Woman to become the Head of Nursing at Kings College Hospital here in the UK. I am proud of this achievement but I also feel it is my responsibility to share the skills I have acquired here in the UK with my colleagues in Zambia. This is why myself and other Zambian nurses in the UK decided to form the Association to cross pollinate ideas with our friends in Zambia” she said.
The African healthcare conference is a forum for senior level health care professionals, suppliers, manufacturers, investors and decision-makers from across Africa who gather and discuss various crucial topics in health. Zambia participated in three major events with the Honourable Minister giving a key presentation on the policy direction of the Ministry of Health. Dr. Chilufya was accompanied by Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Muyeba Chikonde, Director at Ministry of Health Dr. Malama, First Secretary- Trade Mrs. Irene Chengo Mudenda and First Secretary- Protocol Mr. Liboma Lipalile.