24 January 2013

Zambia: Govt, Partners MOU - Shot in the Arm for Health Sector

THE Government and cooperating partners have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to scale up provision of quality health care in the country.

Cooperating partners in the agreement are Sweden, Canada, World Health Organisation (WHO), US, Japan, Britain, European Union delegation in Zambia (EU) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Health Minister Joseph Kasonde, who signed on behalf of the Zambian Government, called on the partners to consider adopting Government's new policy direction of providing quality universal health care as enshrined in the National Health Strategic Plan.

Dr Kasonde said for a long time, Government had focused on development of primary health care which led to neglecting second and third level hospitals.

The minister said this had resulted in strong imbalances where services provided at the lower level hospitals could not be supported by specialist treatment in second and third level hospitals.

He said unless the referral system was strengthened from the second and third level hospitals, the health care sector would continue to experience challenges.

"We continue to face numerous challenges at hospital level, while we improve access to health services at health posts, health care centre level and first level hospitals. We have seen a decline at second and third level hospitals," he said.

Department for International Development (DFID) head of office Kevin Quinlan said the purpose of signing the MoU was to improve health care delivery in Zambia.

Mr Quinlan said the inclusion of civil society in the MoU was good and made the document holistic.

"We very much look forward to more of this as we go on with the ultimate aim of improving health for Zambians under the strong leadership of the Government," he said.

US Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella hailed Government's commitment to the fight against corruption as part of the vision to improve health care delivery.

Swedish representative Per Lundel said the MoU and the mutual accountability framework would foster accountability and promote transparency for result oriented activities in the health sector.

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