The Member of Parliament for Malole, Robert Kalimi, has called on President Hakainde Hichilema to fire the Health Minister, Sylvia Masebo, in order to save lives that are being lost due to poor health delivery.
Kalimi accused Masebo of exhibiting arrogance on the matter and challenged the President to confirm whether this behavior is directed by him. Kalimi stated that a parliamentary report on health conducted by Dr. Christopher Kalila has exposed the incompetence of the UPND administration, particularly Masebo who has already been fired from previous administrations due to her lack of competency.
“The government and the National Assembly spent alot of money to constitute that committee to go round to get the input of the stakeholder from medical officers and at the end you say the Speaker’s report is not important. You waste people’s time to submit to your report and you say this report is useless. This is how uncaring and wicked the UPND is,” he said.
The MP argued that the lives of the people in Malole are being lost due to preventable diseases such as malaria and called on the President to take action to address the issue.
“Am urging the President if he is morally upright, let him fire Slyvia Masebo today because people are dying. People in Malole are dying over something that is preventable like malaria. If the President means well am challenging him that he should stop that nonsense at Ministry of Health,” he said.
There has been a public outcry about the availability of essential medicines and medical supplies in public health facilities across Zambia. The Ministry of Health and its supply chain agency, the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supply Agency (ZAMMSA), have been accused of not adequately supplying these essential items to public health institutions. The issue has been raised in both traditional and social media platforms, as well as on the floor of the House. The Minister of Health, Hon Silvia Masebo, gave a statement on the issue on October 7, 2022, and the Speaker tasked the Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Services to investigate the challenges leading to the shortage and make recommendations on how to address the problem.
The committee’s report found that the national average availability rate for essential medicines and medical supplies was 53.1%, far below the recommended World Health Organization (WHO) stock availability rate of 70-80%. Tertiary institutions and general hospitals were operating at a rate of 45%. Almost all of the facilities visited attributed the shortage to ZAMMSA. The report also revealed that the stock-out rate for these essential items was 59.8% over the past nine months, meaning they were only available 40.2% of the time.
In order to keep these facilities open, many were using grants beyond the allowed percentage of 30%. In some cases, up to 80% of the monthly grant was being used to supplement the lack of medicines and medical supplies. This compromised the ability of the facilities to cover other operational costs, such as maintenance, fuel, cleaning materials, and food for patients.
The report, which was chaired by Dr. Christopher Kalila, concluded that the supply chain of essential medicines, surgical supplies, and laboratory reagents was “below par and worrisome.” It stated that the situation is characterized by “insufficient, erratic and inconsistent supply” by ZAMMSA, which has led to the current shortages and stock-outs being experienced nationwide and negatively impacting the quality of healthcare delivery.
However, when the report was presented to Parliament on Friday, it was rejected by UPND Members of Parliament along with its recommendations.