STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
MINISTER of Health Chitalu Chilufya will in the next sitting of Parliament present a social health insurance scheme bill aimed at bolstering the budget for the health sector.
Dr Chilufya said Government is coming up with innovative means of increasing revenue to the health sector through avenues such as sin taxing.
Dr Chilufya made the announcement yesterday when he availed the ambitious 2017-2021 Zambia national health strategic plan which will require a total of US$414.3 billion to implement over the five-year period.
“In September, I will present to Parliament a social health insurance scheme bill. It is a new revenue stream meant to finance the heath sector. In the sin taxing, we will tax you for smoking, drinking and eating junk foods,” Dr Chilufya said.
The Mansa Central legislator said all goods that are harmful to human health such as alcohol, tobacco and fast foods will be levied so that Zambians remain healthy and contribute to the economic growth of the nation.
He said money raised will go towards strengthening health systems.
“This strategic plan is informed by the Patriotic Front manifesto. It is aligned to the seventh national development plan and speaks to UN agenda on health. It is our blue print for the health sector and catalogues all priorities of Government,” Dr Chilufya said.
He said the health of Zambians remains Government’s top priority and as such, service delivery is the ultimate goal of the Ministry of Health.
“In our plan, we have seven key pillars. These are a motivated human resource for health, drugs and vaccines, infrastructure development, health information, leadership and governance, and health care financing,” Dr Chilufya said.
Dr Chilufya said Government will build five specialist hospitals in Mpika and Kitwe to cater for the surrounding provinces, while specialist hospitals in Lusaka will cater for the rest of the country.
“Somebody said we are too ambitious – yes, we are. We will during this period employ 30,000 health workers and train 500 specialist doctors. We will build 500 new health centres targeting mothers and children,” he said.
Dr Chilufya said the Ministry of Health also has ambitious legacy goals.
“We want to eliminate malaria, control epidemic of HIV/AIDS, and reduce new infections from 48,000 to less than 5,000. We also want to increase health insurance coverage from four percent to 100 percent. We will also build e-health schools, and introduce alcohol de-addiction,” he said.
Dr Chilufya said Government has already procured alcohol de-addiction drugs to treat productive citizens who have fallen prey to alcohol.
He thanked donors for their support to the ministry.
And United Nations resident coordinator Janet Rogan described the strategy as comprehensive.
Ms Rogan said the UN will continue to advocate more domestic resources to health and increased budget allocation to health.
United States Agency for International Development acting mission director Thomas Crubaugh said Zambia’s health strategic plan will help achieve the country’s vision 2030 and move Zambia towards becoming a prosperous middle income nation by 2030.
“Speaking for the health co-operating partners, we could not agree more that health must be prioritised as a key economic investment that will drive Zambia’s social economic development agenda. Clearly, a healthy nation is a productive nation,” Ms Rogan said.