28 November 2012

Zambia: More District Hospitals Coming

GOVERNMENT will establish more district hospitals to scale up health service delivery in all areas including the newly-created districts, Health Minister Joseph Kasonde has told Parliament.

Dr Kasonde was seeking Parliament's approval of K3.6 trillion allocated to the health sector for implementation of various health programmes.

Issuing a policy statement for the Ministry of Health in Parliament yesterday, Dr Kasonde said improved health care was among Government's top priorities.

The ministry had 21 district hospitals under construction across the country.

"There is need for a minimum of one district hospital in each district. With the new districts that are being created, there is need to expand this programme further, and we hope to achieve this within the 2011-2015 National Health Strategic Plan," Dr Kasonde said.

Additionally, Dr Kasonde said a comprehensive programme had been outlined for the upgrading of the University Teaching Hospital, Kitwe Central Hospital, and Ndola Central Hospital.

Other institutions lined up for upgrade to international standards are Livingstone General Hospital and Chainama Hills Hospital in Lusaka.

He said K186.1 billion had been budgeted for infrastructure development in 2013 and a further K204 billion for the upgrading of five hospitals in Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola and Livingstone.

Key focuses for the 2013 Budget implementation were disease control, infrastructure development and rehabilitation works, and human resource development and recruitment.

Other areas are research and health communication, reform of health care financing and strengthening of financial management and accountability.

Underscoring last year's achievements, Dr Kasonde cited the anti-retroviral therapy programme as having recorded major successes.

He said by the end of June last year, the country had a total of 415,000 patients receiving life-saving ARVs in the public sector and that out of these, 32,000 were children below the age of 15 years, representing eight per cent of those on treatment against a target of 10 per cent.

The minister added that more than 95 per cent of the patients were still on the first line treatment.

In terms of budget allocation in dealing with HIV/AIDS, Dr Kasonde said this had increased from K50 billion in 2012 to K175 billion in 2013.

He said the approval of the National Health Policy, which had been in draft form since 1991, was a landmark achievement for 2012.

Dr Kasonde said to ensure a steady supply of drugs, the Government had been working on improving the supply chain management system.

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