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A healthy society is a strong prerequisite for a wealthy nation.Zambia’s goal of becoming a prosperous middle-income nation by the year 2030, as stated in Vision 2030, will not come to fruition without the right policies being implemented.
Achieving middle income status requires: increasing annual health expenditure per capita to a period average of US$150, comparable to middle income economies like Botswana, Gabon, Panama and South Africa.
A number of strides have been made in the health sector through various Government interventions and policies. The Patriotic Front government has been categorically clear and passionate about its stance on getting health care to the last mile. This can be seen by the number of health facilities that have been built over the last 7years as well as the strong push for employing more human resources for health. Furthermore,the establishment of regional medical hubs to achieve the last mile distribution of drugs and other essential medical commodities is a big step in the right direction. This will scale up the accessibility of medicines by those in far-flung areas. This is a recommendable move by the government.
Despite these progressive strides, challenges such as inadequate trained staff, expensive medicines, inefficient and inaccurate delivery of commodities, inadequate funding and a small local pharmaceutical industry will hinder growth of the health sector.This will in turn impact the economy regressively.
Statistics from the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) states that Maternal Mortality Ratio stands at 591 per 100,000. This is a far cry from Sustainable Development Goalnumber 3, Target 1 of reaching 70 per 100,000 live births by the year 2030.
As Medicines Transparency Alliance Zambia, we are quite worried by the above statistic.Working under the Health Systems Advocacy partnership, with ACHEST and AMREF Health Africa, our aim is to advocate for access to quality affordable sexual reproductive health services for everyone in Zambia. This includes adequate and affordable sexual and reproductive health commodities and qualified human resources for health.
Zambia is a signatory to the 2001 Abuja Declaration on health which states that each African nation will commit themselves to allocating 15% of their national budget to the health sector. In 2017, the country allocated 8.9% and in 2018 we saw an increase to 9.5% of the national budget being allocated to health.
The honourable Minister of Finance, MargareteMwanakatwe recently presented the K86 billion 2019 national budget to the nation. This has seen a marked increase from the 2018 national budget of K71.6billion. However, such an intrinsically important sector as health, has only been allocated K8billion.
It is therefore very disheartening to note that in the midst of a growing population with growing needs and challenges, the allocation in the 2019 national budget to health has seen a decrease to 9.3% from 9.5% in 2018.
54 years after our independence from the British, surely the growth of the health sector cannot be said to be in tandem with the countries mushrooming population and economic aspirations.  With a population of above 15 million people of which the majority are below the age of thirty, Zambia definitely shouldnot only put in placethe right policies, but also be seen to be implementing them. Prioritising the health sector to advantage this youthful nation is a BIG MUSTif we are to meet our goal of being“a prosperous middle- income nation” by the year 2030.
At this stage META and the Health Systems Advocacy Partnership would like to wish all Zambians a healthy, peaceful and happy independence- day.
Released on 17 October 2018 by
MeTA Zambia Coordinator/ Health Systems Advocacy Partnership Lead

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