By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka - Zambia’s cooperating partners are demanding accountability on the funds being disbursed to facilitate the attainment of universal health care.
The United States has been one of the major funders of Zambia’s fight against the dreaded HIV/Aids, maternal and child health, immunisation, malaria, and tuberculosis, among others. This has helped Zambia’s vision of eliminating various ailments by this year and others tenable before the close of the new decade.
The partners argue that with the funds being availed, amid Zambia’s economic challenges, leading to inducement of austerity measures, there is a need to deal ruthlessness, efficiently and effectively with every Kwacha, dollar, euro, krona, pound and yen received to overcome the challenges.
Sheryl Stumbras, the UNAIDS Zambia mission director, noted that it would be folly to divert funds for reasons other than health related that would deprive the Zambians of the services on which the partnership has endevoured to make remarkable progress.
She cited the most recent Demographic Health Survey (DHS) which adduced reduced maternal and child mortality, which if the current trends continue, 2020 is envisioned to be the year Zambia would reach HIV epidemic control.
“It is critical that donor support is not used in any way to advance political agenda, so, on behalf of all cooperating partners, I ask that all the political parties refrain from politicising donor investments to maintain the political mandate of the assistance provided by our respective countries.
“Dragging cooperating partners support into domestic politics undermines the basic tenets of our work.” she stated.
The cooperating partners called for sustained success on various aspects of assistance on the health related programmes being co-financed with Zambia’s government, while calling for non backsliding on the advances or progress made in among, other aspects, neonatal mortality which has been rising.
While noting the rise in neonatal mortality globally, there is still room for improvement with alarming rates in Zambia’s southern and eastern provinces. There was a need for diligence to ensure Zambia’s legal and policy environments remained friendly to all those that need access to various health related programmes if success was to be recorded as espoused.
Zambia’s Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya commended the unflinching donor support towards the country’s attainment of the universal health care as evidenced from the support rendered.
He pledged to ensure accountability for every resource provided towards all the epidemics and ailments that might afflict the country and challenged all those responsible for accounting for the resources to put them to good use.
The United States has invested a staggering US$4 billion in support towards Zambia’s health programmes under the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).
The initiative is intended to reduce new HIV infections towards an Aids-free generation in Zambia. USAID PAMO is the flagship malaria activity for the US President's Malaria Initiative in Zambia.
According to data obtained by The Southern Times, Zambia is primed to receive a staggering US$475,434,140 this year and US$307m is expected to be disbursed next year while a further US$58 million has been committed towards the country’s health related programmes but is subject to parliamentary approval by respective donor countries.