Editor's Comment

Health scheme way to go

Livingstone general hospital.

EVERY Zambian needs to have access to medical care and in fact, going by Government’s ideal, no-one should be excluded from accessing medical care.
It is in view of this that Government embarked on the construction of 650 health posts throughout the country, the construction of hospitals and the upgrading of health institutions in an effort to bring healthcare services closer to the people.
To further increase healthcare delivery, Government has also introduced the National Health Insurance Scheme, which is also aimed at making every Zambian have access to quality treatment.
In all these efforts, Government is working towards leaving no-one behind in the provision of healthcare services.
A healthy nation is a guarantee for increased productivity and so the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme is an avenue to ensure a vibrant health sector.
Government has postponed the deduction of contributions to the scheme from this month-end to next month-end to allow for further consultations with stakeholders.
In arriving at this decision, Government wants to ensure that all stakeholders have a better understanding of the operations of the scheme through which every worker in Government and the parastatal sector will contribute one percent of their salary.
From the contributions, it means everyone will afford to get to a healthcare provider when they are unwell. This entails no-one will be excluded from accessing healthcare services.
The funds which will be channelled towards the scheme will result in an improved healthcare system where medical supplies and other services will be readily available.
National Health Insurance Authority director-general James Kapesa notes that the package under the scheme will include all conditions that cause death from diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and maternal health.
It will not cover cosmetic treatment or cosmetic dental procedures.
Looking at the scope of the scheme, these are the everyday challenges that Zambians face and the earlier they are tackled, the better for the patients.
In a number of circumstances, people die because they have no money to meet the costs of the treatment.
This scheme will ensure early treatment of the diseases and this will in turn curb deaths and improve the health of the citizens.
The reduction of the disease burden is a plus for productivity in the workplace or the school set-up while Government, on the other hand, will be able to save funds and channel them to other needy areas, creating a positive spiral effect for the nation.
What is encouraging about this scheme is that the wheel is not being re-invented. A similar scheme has been tried in other parts of the world. The results are so impressive that it is a wonder why other countries, like Zambia, have been slow in starting it.
Ghana is a case in point of a country with such a health scheme that has resulted in a healthier nation. The Ghana model is woven on generating money for the scheme through taxation on selected goods and services.
The scheme covers treatment for the most prevalent diseases like malaria, skin diseases, stomach disorders, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, eye and ear infections, rheumatism and typhoid, and also covers dental care.
The scheme is commended by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for improving financial access to healthcare services, particularly for the poor and marginalised.
This can be a learning point for Zambia and there is hope that such high heights in healthcare delivery are not too lofty, considering the benefits that come with the scheme.

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