Tuesday, May 28, 2024

NGOCC urges government to address drug shortages and high cost of living in 2023

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The Non-Governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has implored the Government to improve the provision of medical drugs in health facilities and cushion the high cost of living in the New Year 2023.

NGOCC Board Chairperson Grace M. Sinkamba the women’s movement is deeply concerned over the continued reports about drug shortages in hospitals across the country.

Reviewing the year 2022, Ms. Sinkamba said the Ministry of Health should put its house in order and immediately procure drugs for all the health facilities in the country.

“The women’s movement is further deeply concerned about the continued reports about drug shortages in hospitals across the country. We therefore would like to appeal to the Ministry of Health to urgently deal with the reported drug shortages in the hospitals. It is totally unacceptable that our people, especially the majority women and children, should continue to die because of lack of drugs in the hospitals. Information coming from the NGOCC members across the country indicates that there is a serious shortage since the new dawn government took over. The Ministry of Health should put its house in order and immediately procure drugs for all the health facilities in the country. Certain basic drugs such as paracetamol, aspirin and Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) are manufactured by local pharmaceuticals within our country hence having a shortfall of these drugs is illogical,” she stated.

“We as a women’s movement we are also perturbed at the high levels of Maternal deaths which the ministry of Health reported at over 700 from January to November with ten to twenty deaths occurring in a week. While we note and are hopeful following the Government’s announcement in the budget speech that maternity wings would be attached to all health facilities, we implore the government to ensure that these are adequately resourced in terms of staffing, equipment and other requirements. We want to see a significant reduction in maternal and neonatal deaths,” Ms. Sinkamba said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Sinkamba said the women’s movement is saddened with the abolition of the Ministry of Gender.

“As a women’s movement we were saddened with the abolition of the Ministry of Gender. While we noted the elevation of the Gender Division and its placement in the Office of the President, questions remain around the efficacy of the national gender machinery. One year after the new government there is no clear direction of the gender machinery. It is our considered view that without a Gender Ministry and the Gender Commission, as provided for in the Constitution the gender agenda and women’s empowerment remain unprioritized by the new Government. We wonder who represents the interests of women and Gender in general in the UPND Cabinet in the absence of a Cabinet portfolio. It is sad to note that while the Government has proceeded to establish the Emoluments Commission, which was created at the same time with the Gender Commission after the amendment of the Constitution in 2016, the Gender Commission remains un-operationalised. This goes to demonstrate the lack of political will and commitment by the new government to narrow the gender gaps and the inequalities against women. As for the women’s movement, what we want to see is the acceleration of the narrowing of the gender gaps in the country and the mainstreaming of gender in both the public and private sectors. This can only be achieved with an effective and comprehensive gender machinery,” she said.

Mr. Sinkamba continued:”We need a Focal Point in Government, preferably a Ministry where we can easily walk in and register our challenges. Further, it is concerning that while the gender machinery has been reconfigured, it has not been matched with corresponding financial and human resource deployment to the division. There also seems to be a lack of a clear policy direction with regards to the terms of reference for the division and its mandate. The Division to effectively play its role, needs to be adequately resourced. As already stated, it is imperative that the Gender Equity and Equality Act (GEEA) be fully operationalized, specifically the establishment of the Gender Commission to spur gender equity and equality in Zambia. The operationalization of the GEEA is critical in the domestication of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), to which Zambia is a party. The GEEA will also address the entrenched patriarchy and discrimination against women and girls which is buttressed by tradition and culture. The Republican Constitution in Article 231 is clear on the creation of the Gender Commission as well as the designation of a parent Ministry which as a women’s movement we feel would provide consistent and focused representation of gender issues at Cabinet level.”

On social political situations, Ms. Sinkamba noted some of the positive strides that the New Dawn Government has taken in improving the citizen’s welfare.

“President Hakainde Hichilema and the United Party for National Development (UPND) administration clocked one year in office on the 12th of August 2022, having been elected to office in August 2021. During the year the country witnessed both positive and retrogressive pronouncements and decisions which have impacted the gender agenda in various ways. As we reflect on the year 2022, we note some of the positive strides that the Government has taken in improving the citizen’s welfare. We have in mind for instance, the provision of free education for all, the recruitment of more Teachers and Health workers into the public service. Even with these appointments, without doubt, unemployment still remains a huge challenge for the country. We note the focus of the new administration to grow the economy so as to spur job creation by the private sector. We are also happy to note that incidences of political violence had reduced. We further note that political cadres are no longer in charge of bus stops and markets as was the case before.We have however received disturbing information that some cadres are still in some of these markets and bus stations with reports of continued cadrelism,” she said.

“We therefore appeal to the leadership of the UPND to investigate these reports and curb the vice if confirmed true in order to allow the marketeers, the majority of whom are women, to trade in a conducive atmosphere free of any form of intimidation. As the women’s movement we also remain concerned with the low number of women in decision making positions at all levels including at parliamentary and local government levels. During the just ending year, several parliamentary and local Government by elections were held and there still seems to be a lack of political will by the political parties to adopt women as candidates. As we go to 2023, NGOCC will be advocating for a law to compel political parties to adopt 50-50 women and men representation at all levels.”

“Women, just like men, have an equal stake in the Governance of the country. It is sad that while Zambia is a signatory to various protocols on Gender Equality such as the SADC Gender Protocol that dictates the 50–50 representation, women remain under-represented. Women remain under-represented at local government, Parliamentary and at Cabinet levels. While President Hichilema has appointed women to decision making positions, we still think we can do better in this direction. Our Republican Constitution in Article 259 is clear on the need for gender consideration whenever the appointing authority is making appointments. It is our hope that the UPND Alliance Government will put in place a legal framework before the 2026 elections that will compel political parties as gatekeepers to adopt 50–50 representation of both women and men at local government and Parliamentary levels,” Ms. Sinkamba added.

On the cost of living, Ms. Sinkamba said while appreciating the efforts by the Government to manage the economy, there is need to cushion the most vulnerable in our society

“We have noted the increased cost of living in the country over the last one year. The cost of living for a family of six as measured by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection’s (JCTR’s) Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) for the month of November 2022 in Lusaka stood at K8, 567.20. This reflects a K29.42 increase from the K8, 537.78 recorded in October 2022. Clearly, this is way out of reach of most of the Zambians. While appreciating the efforts by the Government to manage the economy, there is a need to cushion the most vulnerable in our society. The Government should for instance find a sustainable way of managing the energy sector. The recent monthly increases of fuel have not been helpful to the majority of the citizens especially businesses entities as this raised operational costs across the board and this cost has been passed onto the consumer. To cushion the most vulnerable, Social Protection Programs such as the Social Cash Transfer, must be robust and efficient with targeting mechanisms that reach the intended beneficiaries including women and girls, those with disabilities and the aged,” she said.

“A just and humane society is a must for all citizens. As we end the year and start another, it is our desire to see those elected to manage our resources, work to ensure that all citizens enjoy their God given rights. We as the women’s movement believe and declare that gender equality is a MUST!. The entirety of NGOCC, Member Organizations, Board of Governors as well as Collaborating Partners and all Stakeholders will remain consistent, expansive and committed towards ensuring that we contribute to Gender Equality in Zambia. Compliments of the season and a happy 2023 Zambia,” she concluded.

3 COMMENTS

  1. It turns out that when the president said – ” THE MONEY IS IN THE BANK and that he could not understand why there was no medicine in hospitals” – HE BLATANTLY LIED – throwing his Health Minister under the bus. The truth is there was no money for medicine in the bank. A reason why the nation is still in this medicine saga. He lied when he knew very well people were going to the graves due to lack of medicine. What would you call a man who can tell such a satanic lie to save face from the nation ?

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  2. If they haven’t sorted out those issues during the whole of 2022 then what makes you think they can solve them in 2023.

  3. But Mrs Nalumango’s philosophy is that there’s a gap between the medical person and the patient so let’s narrow this gap to end the drug shortage.

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