NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka
THE Zambian Government has been implementing significant health sector reforms, aimed at strengthening health service delivery in order to improve the health status of Zambians.
The reforms have yielded significant results in form of strengthened health systems, improved access to health care and improved health outcomes.
This was achieved through efficient and effective interventions Government instituted in the year 2015.
In the 2015 national budget, Government increased allocation to the health sector to K4.5 billion from K4.23 billion.
In unveiling the budget, Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda said the 2015 budgetary allocation represents 9.6 percent of the overall K46.6 billion of the national budget compared to 9.9 percent of the total K44.2 billion.
Mr Chikwanda said the increased budgetary allocation to the health sector is in line with governmentâ€™s objective of providing equitable access to quality health care.
Of the allocation, K268.2 million was apportioned for the construction and rehabilitation of health infrastructure in various parts of the country.
A further K753.5 million was set aside for the procurement of essential drugs and medical supplies while K52.5 million has been allocated for the recruitment of over 2,000 health personnel.
And in line with Governmentâ€™s objective of bringing cost-effective quality health services as close as possible to all Zambians, Government committed itself to increasing the availability of frontline health personnel, enhancing infrastructure and improving the provision of drugs and medical equipment.
To address human resource constraints in the health sector, Government maintained implementation of the National Training Operational Plan.
The current number of frontline health personnel stands at 13,147.Â In 2015, Government planned to recruit additional staff so that the overall number of health personnel increases by over 2,000, bringing the total number to over 15,000.
Government also commenced the construction of two new training institutions in Senanga and at Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital in Lusaka.
In addition, 27 other health training institutions are under rehabilitation and expansion.
This is expected to accelerate the supply of health personnel by increasing the number of graduates to 10,000 per year from the current 5,500.
And 30 district hospitals are under construction in various parts of the country.
During the commissioning of a modern theatre at Kavu health facility in Ndola district, President Lungu said government is committed to constructing, upgrading and modernising health facilities across this country for effective and efficient quality health care services.
â€œIt is against this background that government has committed itself to the construction of the first level hospitals across the country and 650 health posts at a total of US$55.9 million of which US $5.9 million is from the Zambian Government,â€ Mr Lungu said.
In this regard, 208 health posts are under construction in the Copperbelt, Central and Eastern provinces at a cost of US $19, 468,236.
Another 195 health posts are also under construction in Western, Southern and Lusaka provinces at a total cost of US$18, 387,160.
In Luapula, North Western, Northern and Muchinga provinces, 247 health posts are under construction at a total cost of US $18, 100,000.
Further, three first-level hospitals are under construction namely Chililabombwe, Mufulira, and Masaiti while the two tertiary hospitals, Ndola and Kitwe central hospitals, are under-going upgrade and modernisation.
In addition, several health facilities on the copperbelt are currently being upgraded and rehabilitated and this includes the northern command military hospital and Ndeke village clinic in Kitwe which is being upgraded to first-level hospital.
Further, Government is improving staffing in the health sector through establishing and construction of training institutions such as the copperbelt medical school and Senanga School of nursing in western province.
Government is also expanding all health training institutions to increase the number of student enrolment as well as supporting initiatives of establishing private training institutions, Mr Lungu added.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Joseph Kasonde said Government promised that the distance, or the radius, around any institution that a person can be expected to travel is five kilometres.
â€œAt present, the average distance is between 40 and 80km. These 650 posts are meant to address that issue by reducing the distances people travel before they reach a health-care facility,â€ he said.
The Ministry of Health has been committed to re-organising and managing the sector in an efficient, effective and prudent manner that would significantly improve health service delivery.
With appropriate levels of commitment and support from the Government, Co-operating partners, health workers and other key stakeholders, the vision to strengthen health service delivery to improve the health status of Zambians and significantly contribute to national development will be achieved.
NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka