15 February 2011

Zambia: Donor Funding Withdrawal Retrogressive-RDAZ

THE Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) has said withdrawing of funding by some donors from the Ministry of Health following allegations of corruption at the ministry in 2010, was retrogressive.

RDAZ president Whyson Munga said much as it supported the fight against corruption, withholding of financial resources to the ministry had devastating effects on ordinary Zambians who did not benefit from the alleged corruption at the ministry.

The Ministry of Health was last year prompted to cancel some of its programmes due to inadequate financial resources following the withdrawal of funds by some major donors such as the Netherlands and Swedish governments.

"The punishment is not felt by those who misuse the money but the ordinary man in the village.

"So we kindly appeal to the donors that they consider other forms of sanctions instead of withholding funds," he said.

Dr Munga, who has just taken over as RDAZ president from Crispin Moyo, said in an interview in Lusaka that the association was however happy with the measures that the Government had now put in place to curb the misappropriation of donor funding.

He said like any other stakeholder, the junior doctors were equally concerned with the reports of financial abuse at the Ministry of Health and hoped the measures put in place would win back donor confidence.

Dr Munga said it was gratifying to note that from the time the allegations came to the fore, the Government had taken necessary steps to prevent the recurrence of the alleged financial mismanagement.

And outgoing RDAZ president Dr Moyo said while the association was happy with the measures employed by the Government, actions that had been taken should be successfully implemented instead of just being on the paper.

Dr Moyo said the association was satisfied with the measures employed by the Government to ensure that donor funding to the ministry was not mismanaged but utilised for intended purposes.

"The year 2010 has been a challenging one for the Ministry of Health

especially with the withdrawal of funding by some major donors. However, we are satisfied with the measures that the Government has put in place measures to ensure that there are no more such abuses," he said.

The association was equally happy that it had created a good understanding with the Government where dialogue had prevailed on many issues affecting the health sector.

The relationship between the Government and the junior doctors was cordial and could result in the improvement of the health delivery system of many especially in rural areas.

Dr Moyo said, while Zambia was still facing a shortage of human resource in the sector, the Government has managed to have at least one doctor in each of the 73 districts.

He however said the Government should show commitment in meeting the Abuja Declaration which required every member country to allocate 15 per cent of its National Budget to health.

"Apart from the Abuja Declaration, there is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) where I feel we can only meet them by 2015 if we allocate enough financial resources to the health sector," he said.

He said with less than five years before 2015, there should be enough resources that would help to reduce the maternal mortality rate as well as improve the general health of the Zambian people.

Dr Moyo said the Government was building apartments at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) to ease accommodation crisis of the health workers at the country's biggest health institution.

While his term was coming to an end, he was hopeful the new office bearers would continue to promote dialogue with the Government and improve the health of the Zambian people.

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