The Zambia Medical Association has called on the New Dawn Government to declare a “State of Emergency” in the health sector owing to shortage of drugs and in order to invoke disaster management provisions in the procurement of essential drugs and allied substances.
In a statement issued by ZMA Secretary General Dr. Kaumba Roy Tolopu on behalf of the Association, noting with dismay that the revelation on the national drug stock levels currently stands at 53.1%. which falls way below the World Health Organisation – WHO stipulated minimum threshold of 70% to 80%, adding that the findings that over the last nine months period under review, essential medicines were only available at 40.2% in tertiary and general hospitals, and at 23.3% in rural health centers and health posts, and calls for deep introspection by the Government on its struggling health policy.
Dr. Tolopu said that without an emergent approach to this desperate matter of national importance, their Association believes that many lives will be unnecessarily lost, which will be counterproductive to the economic gains made over the past year.
“On this affront, ZMA would like to remind our lawmakers, policy makers and responsible officers in the line Ministry to de-politicize the health sector and reflect on the old adage that, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation, and every life matters,” he said
Dr. Tolopu explained that their Association has been following Parliamentary deliberations on the state of availability of medicines and medical supplies in public health facilities countrywide with keen interest. And on 16th June, 2022 the then Acting Minister of Health Ambrose Lufuma mentioned in a ministerial statement that the availability of essential medicines and medical supplies countrywide in the last five years had been below the expected target of 80% and that the current national stock position was critically low and at emergency point.
Dr. Tolopu further explained that on 7th October, 2022 Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo cited in a ministerial statement on the status of the availability of insulin in Kalabo district, where she did inform the House that the district is over-stocked with enough insulin to cover four to thirty-seven months based on consumption, a disputable report that implored the Hon Madam Speaker to delegate the Committee on health, community development and social services to undertake a fact-finding study across the country.
He disclosed that it is from this background, that ZMA has took time to study the special report by the said Committee on the availability of medicines and medical supplies in health facilities countrywide which was presented on 16th December, 2022 in the second session of the thirteenth national assembly for adoption but subsequently rejected, a development that is regrettable considering the study met the minimum and conventional set standards of evidence generation.
Dr. Tolopu mentioned that their Association agrees with the findings in the Parliamentary Report by the Committee on findings on drug shortages countrywide.
“We find that the observations made by the Committee are in conformity with our own findings as a professional body following an exercise we conducted four (4) weeks ago in all provincial health centers across the country,” he said
He highlighted that the Committee’s findings that the critical national drug shortage is as a result of insufficient, erratic and inconsistent supplies by the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (ZAMMSA) vindicates their members who have continued to be maligned and faced with vicious attacks from various Government officials who blame them for the collapse of the supply chain on allegations of pilferage, accusations that have yielded no convictions from the records but unfortunately pitted them against a suspicious public that they swore an oath to serve diligently and ethically.
“Our members continue to deliver on the Government’s agenda of providing quality health services as close to the family as possible under very harsh conditions and hostile environment for which we believe should be applauded by all well-meaning citizens rather than marooned,” Dr. Tolopu said