The UPND says government must withdraw the National Health Bill from Parliament and subject it to widespread consultation.

In a statement yesterday, UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka observed that the Bill in its current form was not progressive.

“On 8th December, 2017, the Minister of Health presented to Parliament the National Health Insurance Bill. We note that health insurance is an acknowledged mechanism the world over, of financing healthcare and mitigating medical costs by individuals. The UPND has until now restrained itself from making any statement on this matter to allow the legislative process and consultations to follow established channels. However, following statements from members of the Patriotic Front asking citizens to blindly support this Bill, we would like to submit as follows: 1 That we have since looked at the broad provisions of this proposed National Health Insurance Bill and consulted a broad spectrum of health economic experts and relevant stakeholders. 2 The Bill makes it mandatory for all persons 18 years and above in Zambia to register and contribute to the scheme whether employed or not. 3 We have since observed that the scheme will principally, be funded by all the workers and employers in Zambia, both in private and public service regardless of whether they already belong to another scheme,” Mucheleka stated.

“4 We have noted that the Ministry of Health did not and has not consulted the workers and the employers and business owners to get their views and inputs on this Bill. This is particularly important because it is all the workers, all the employers and business owners in the country, through monthly deductions, who will be mostly funding this scheme.
5 Consequently, we can only conclude that this is another national tax system similar to NAPSA or PAYE which is being imposed on the already over-burdened workers of this country.
6 Accordingly, we find this Bill not progressive in its current form and ask Government to withdraw it and take it for widespread consultation and national debate with all relevant stakeholders.”

He stated that whilst citizens were not opposed to having health insurance, exhaustive consultations were necessary.

“We in the UPND, would like to assure the citizens that we are not opposed to health insurance but believe that national issues that involve the health of citizens and their incomes must be done based on thorough community engagement, exhaustive consultations, national debate and broad consensus. Clearly this was not done,” stated Mucheleka.