Vice President Inonge Wina says the Zambian government is worried that the announced budget cuts in foreign aid and funding to United Nations agencies will have devastating effects on the country’s health sector.
A White House budget blue print is calling for a 28 percent cut in State Department funding, meaning drastic reductions in foreign aid.
Questioned about US aid cuts during a recent trip to Australia, Vice-President Inonge Wina said a range of health programs in Zambia country would be impacted.
“It is a pity that the new administration of the United States and President Donald Trump is considering cutting aid to many countries, especially in the health sector,” she said.
“We have received quite a substantial amount of support from the US government through USAID in the promotion of health, especially in the fights against HIV and AIDS, in the area of maternal health and in malaria eradication.”
According to USAID, three out of four Zambians live in extreme poverty, and the country faces major challenges including high unemployment, low agricultural productivity, inadequate road and energy infrastructure, poor education outcomes and health crises caused by HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
Annually, Zambia receives $US300 million under USAID.
The nation is a major beneficiary of a range of programs including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); the President’s Malaria Initiative (PIM), Feed the Future, the President’s Global Climate Change Initiative, and the President’s Power Africa and Trade Africa programs.
The US budget blueprint provides ongoing support for PEPFAR, which channels nearly $US7 billion a year into HIV/AIDS programs around the globe.
And Mrs Wina says government is looking at alternative funding avenues to maintain existing health programs in the face of the US budget cuts.
“Some of the support we [have been] receiving from the US will not be there, so we’ll have to find ways of supplementing what we will [be] receiving so that our programs do not stall,” Mrs Wina said.
“We have not yet been informed about the changes that will come from the US government regarding their support to Africa, so when that is known, then you will know what figures you will be working with in that area.
“As a country we are preparing ourselves for any eventualities.”
Mrs Wina expressed concern about the impact of US foreign aid cuts on Africa more broadly.
The Trump budget eliminates funding for the Global Climate Change Initiative and would stop payments to UN programs on climate change.
“Africa has been hit by many calamities including natural ones,” Mrs Wina said.
“For example, we have issues that have impacted our people due to climate change conditions; we have had droughts and we have had flash floods.
“All this means that sometimes our governments are not ready for these disasters and additional support is sought from other countries.
“But if that support will not be forthcoming because of new government policies in other countries where we make multi-national agreements, then definitely some programs will be affected by these decisions.”