A five-member Zambian Ministry of Health delegation and a World Bank-Zambia office official is in Turkey to learn best practices for achieving universal health coverage in Zambia and implementation of a Public Health Insurance Scheme as a tool for domestic resource mobilisation.
Ministry of Health Director-Special Duties Mpuma Kamanga, who is the delegation leader, said the visit is aimed at learning how Turkey has undertaken transformative reforms towards improving health services and achieving universal health coverage.
Dr Kamanga said the delegation hoped to gather lessons that will help Zambia leapfrog some of the challenges faced during the current transformative processes in the quest to achieve universal health coverage.
Dr. Kamanga said this yesterday when he briefed Chargé d’Affaires at the Zambian Embassy in Turkey, Bwalya Nondo, on the objectives on the delegation’s visit to Turkey.
“The Patriotic Front (PF) Government under His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia, is pursuing a transformative agenda to strengthen health systems using the primary healthcare approach.
“In this approach, we hope to improve the quality of care in our pursuit towards universal health coverage. This agenda is premised on a balanced approach to health covering prevention, promotion, curative services, palliative and rehabilitative services,” Dr Kamanga said.
He also said Government would like to see a healthcare workforce, which is developed at scale to deal with the disease burden and focused towards providing primary healthcare services.He also said Government is determined to have a robust healthcare financing strategy in which universal health coverage and financial protection will be emphasized.
“As part of these financial reforms, we hope to introduce a national social health insurance scheme to supplement current resources in the healthcare sector and a supply chain system that ensures availability of quality assured essential medicines at all levels of care,” Dr Kamanga said.
He also said Government is investing in specialists, primary healthcare services and equitable investment in infrastructure in rural areas of all the 10 provinces of Zambia.
Dr Kamanga said this will result in reduced distances to health facilities, improved access to healthcare services and reduction of requirements for treatment abroad.
On the Public Health Insurance Scheme, Dr Kamanga said there is need to improve domestic resource mobilisation for the health sector.
He said according to the last national health accounts, over 50 percent of resources used in the health sector are foreign resources.
“Going forward as we attained low middle-income status, the level of support may not grow or continue at the same level when we were a least developed country. So it requires us to think more innovatively about how we can raise revenue locally to support this agenda of increasing resources at the frontline, increasing the staffing, the quality of care, the availability of medication, using more domestic resources,” Dr Kamanga said.
He said apart from tax revenue, Government is exploring ways of introducing a Public Health Insurance Scheme as an innovation to enhance domestic resource mobilisation to support the health sector.
He said this will be part of a holistic financing strategy to protect people from huge payments at the time of seeking healthcare.
Dr Kamanga also said Government sees the Public Health Insurance Scheme as a catalyst for public private partnerships (PPP) because citizens will be able to get health insurance and have a greater choice in terms of accessing both private and public healthcare.
And Mr Nondo said health is an important variable for socio-economic development and that the delegation was in the right country to learn best practices on how to elevate the sector to the next level of development.
He said Turkey has paid a lot of attention to developing the health sector and ensure that all its citizens have access to quality healthcare services.
Others in the delegation are Ministry of Health Deputy Director –Maternal Health, Dr Angel Mwiche, who is also Zambia Health Services Improvement Project (ZHSIP) Co-ordinator, Ministry of Health Director Healthcare Financing, Dr Anita Kaluba, World Bank Group Senior Physician Specialist Dr Musonda Rosemary Sunkutu and Ministry of Health Deputy Director –Planning and Budgeting Henry Kansembe.
First Secretary (Press)
EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA, ANKARA, TURKEY