Some civil society organizations say they expect enhanced public spending towards children in the 2018 national budget so as to realize child rights and access to essential services such as health, education and social protection.
In a statement issued by Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) executive director Isaac Mwaipopo, urged Finance Minister Felix Mutati to increase budgetary allocation to early education.
“CTPD and Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA) through Child Budget Network (CBN) expects enhanced public spending towards children in the 2018 national budget so as to realize child rights and access to essential services such as health, education and social protection. We understand that the National Budget is a vital economic policy instrument that reflects government priorities in trying to realize the countries’ social and economic agenda. As the Ministry of Finance seats to look at various recommendations gathered from the national consultation process, CTPD and ZCEA would like to highlight some of its key expectations with regards to child focused expenditure for the
2018 National Budget,” Mwaipopo stated.
“With regards to Education, we urge government to consider improving budget allocation towards Early Childhood Education (ECE) Programme to ensure adequate supply of learning and teaching materials for children and there should be an increase in recruitment and deployment of ECE teachers in the 2018 budget. On children’s rights to Health, the 8.9% allocation in the 2017 budget is still 6.1% below the recommended 15% Abuja Declaration threshold which would ensure the needed investment
for making the desired gains in the health sector. We are calling on government to consider increasing the total allocation towards health as a share of the total national budget from 8.9% in 2017 to the 15% minimum in the 2018 National Budget in accordance with the Abuja
Declaration. The stark reality is that the provisions of the health infrastructure and care services have still remained a big challenge in Zambia.”
He also stated that CTPD and ZCEA wanted government to improve health care provision allocations.
“According to the UNICEF- Maternal, Newborn and Child Health report of 2017, it highlights that Neonatal Mortality rates and Under Five are still high: 34 newborn babies die per 1,000 live births while 119 under five babies die per 1,000. We are therefore urging government to
provide better attention on health care provision through allocations in the 2018 national budget. In terms of human resource for the health sector, government should consider maintaining the demonstrated commitment in 2017 by training, recruiting and retaining more
health personnel in 2018 through provision of more funding for this purpose,” stated Mwaipopo.
“On nutrition, we are concerned that spending towards nutrition has remained low over the years. According to the analytical brief of the social sector budget 2017 done by UNICEF, Zambia has one of highest stunting rates almost half of children under the age of five in rural and urban areas are stunted which reiterates the need to refocus efforts towards addressing these challenges. We are therefore recommending government to increase nutrition budget allocations in the 2018 national budget: Finally, we would like to emphasize our high anticipation of a National Budget that is driven by plans and strategies highlighted in key policy documents such as the recently launched seventh national plan. We look forward to having a budget that fosters inclusive growth and
tackling rising inequalities.”