Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo has said the New Dawn Government is committed to ending the reported shortage of essential medicines in health facilities in the country.
A critical shortage of essential medical drugs has hit several health facilities countrywide with patients receiving prescriptions to buy medicine from private commercial pharmacists.
Speaking during the annual consultative meeting at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka on Tuesday, Ms. Masebo said the government is seeking to end the issuance of prescriptions of essential medicines to patients when they visit health facilities in the country.
The Minister of Health said the Government is undertaking interventions to improve drug and medical supplies availability that include a continuous increase in financial allocation for drug procurement, strengthening of storage and distribution systems by setting up more regional hubs.
The annual consultative meeting was attended by the Country Representative World Health Organization, Lead Cooperating Partner for Health Dr Nathan N. Bakyaita, High Commissioners and Ambassadors, Country Representatives from the United Nations Agencies, representatives of International NGOs and Representatives from Civil Society Organisations.
“I am delighted to welcome you all to the Annual Consultative Meeting for 2023. This meeting is the highest platform in the Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) Coordination Mechanisms for bilateral and multilateral engagements with the Development Cooperating Partners. It is in this Annual Consultative Meeting where we collectively appreciate the performance of the health sector. It is also in this Annual Consultative Meeting where as one body committed to the promotion of health for all Zambians, we receive feedback, guidance and further support to my Ministry. We are grateful for the support you continue to render to the health sector through the Government to Government and multilateral mechanisms. Your support whether it is financial, material or technical support has contributed significantly to better provision of essential health services. Allow me to highlight a few issues in this meeting,” Ms. Masebo said.
“The procurement, storage and distribution of medicines and medical supplies is the mandate of the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (ZAMMSA) in line with the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Act No. 9 of 2019. The New Dawn Administration is committed to ending the issuance of prescriptions of essential medicines to our people when they visit health facilities in the country. With support from you, our cooperating partners, this Government will ensure to undertake the following interventions to improve drug and medical supplies availability: continuous increase in financial allocation for drug procurement; strengthening the capacity of ZAMMSA; strengthening of storage and distribution systems by setting up more regional hubs; improving the transport fleet and; supporting local production of affordable but quality essential medicines and medical supplies. Like in all other programs in the health sector, our procurement will be anchored on principles of price reasonableness, value for money and timely delivery of goods, services and works. I therefore request you to continue supporting the Government in strengthening the supply chain management,” she stated.
On the National Health Strategic Plan 2022-2026, Ms. Masebo said the plan will guide the implementation of health priority strategies for the next five years.
“The Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP) for the period 2022-2026 was launched by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Mr. Hakainde Hichilema. In order to operationalize the Human and Social Development Pillar, specifically for Health and Nutrition in the 8NDP, the Ministry of Health has developed the National Health Strategic Plan for 2022-2026. This plan provides details on the direction the health sector will take, the achievements and outcomes that will be attained and the interventions that will be undertaken to meet the targets. This new tool will guide the implementation of our health priority strategies for the next five years. I wish to take this opportunity once more to thank all our cooperating partners and stakeholders for supporting us in achieving the completion of such an important task,” Ms. Masebo said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Masebo said the Ministry of Health is engaging traditional and religious leaders as champions for safe motherhood.
“The Ministry continued implementing interventions aimed at reducing maternal deaths. Sadly, we continue losing mothers from bleeding after birth, indirect causes and complications of high BP. In order to reduce and eliminate these sad events, we have intensified improving maternal and newborn care interventions; conducting maternal death surveillance and response meetings; and importantly engagement of traditional and religious leaders as champions for safe motherhood,” she said.
Ms. Masebo also highlighted health issues relating to malaria, HIV, Tuberculosis, National Health Insurance Scheme and Human Resource.
“Malaria remains one of Zambia’s biggest public health challenges and is ranked to be among the top five causes of morbidity and mortality. In order to address this situation, there has been considerable investment in vector control, the main intervention for prevention and control. The Ministry of Health is currently undertaking the Indoor Residual Spraying campaign for 2022. A total of 2.7 million structures have been targeted for this year’s spraying exercise protecting over 11 million people. In addition, the Ministry has planned to distribute over 11 million Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated Mosquito Nets countrywide in 2023.”
She added:”The Ministry of Health continues to focus on attaining the vision of reducing the number of new HIV infections through various interventions. We are concerned over the number of new HIV infections in young people especially adolescent girls and young women. This population is accounting for 42% of new infections. Specific strategies being implemented include enhanced comprehensive prevention interventions targeting both behavioral and biomedical tools. We wish to lobby through you, for reduced prices for injectable ARVs for pre-exposure prophylaxis as this effective intervention will help reduce the new infections. We also continue to struggle with identifying all people living with HIV and therefore rolling out focused HIV testing including both oral and blood based self- testing. We continue to look at all emerging evidence on best prevention and treatment strategies. “
“Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the top priority diseases for Zambia. The Ministry of Health has continued scaling up interventions aimed at preventing and controlling TB through the provision of quality diagnostic and treatment services to infected individuals at all levels of the health care delivery system. The Ministry will continue to strengthen interventions aimed at enhancing public health security against Covid- 19, Polio, Measles, Ebola and Cholera among others. Am happy to inform you that national Covid – 19 vaccination coverage has improved from less than 5.2 percent in 2021 to over 70 percent fully vaccinated as of now. Human Resource for Health is one key driver in achieving Universal Health Coverage. As you are aware, the Health Sector is one of the most skilled labour intensive sectors.”
“For the country to have an adequate and effective health service delivery program there is a need for an adequate pool of health workers. In this regard, the Government recruited over 12,000 personnel this year and has planned to recruit 3000 health workers in 2023. This investment will reduce the human resource gap in the sector. Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, in line with our strategic policy direction of providing quality health care, the Ministry of Health continued to rehabilitate, upgrade and construct health facilities in order to improve service delivery, as well as increase access to cost effective health care services. The upgrading of hospitals is aimed at improving the quality of health care and hospital services. Additionally, the Ministry will continue to invest in procurement of essential modern equipment and replace obsolete equipment,” Ms. Masebo said.