VICE- PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says Zambia’s attainment of an upper middle-income status by 2030 must begin with having a nation of healthy and productive people.

Meanwhile, United Nations Under Secretary General and UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe says he is impressed with President Edgar Lungu’s efforts to fight diseases, including Cholera.

At the launch of the Zambia Integrated Health Situation Room in Lusaka yesterday, Vice-President Wina said this would re-inforce government’s commitment to enhance investment in the health sector, as achieving good health for the people ws key for the development of the nation.

“The attainment of Zambia’s goal as an upper middle-income country by 2030 as stipulated in the 7th National Development Plan, and echoed in the National Health Strategic Plan 2017-2021, begins with having a nation of healthy and productive people. This is also in line with the sustainable development goals. We cannot address issues of socio-economic development and empowerment without ensuring a healthy population which anchors productivity across all sectors of the economy. The Zambia Integrated Health Situation room will not only allow my office and other high level leadership to know first-hand the health situation of the people in many parts of the country, but this remarkable tool will also enable visualization of even the levels of input, such as how many health workers are placed where, what medicines and other supplies are available, including a whole host of other logistical information, if so required to be obtained,” Vice-President Wina said. “Thus, we shall all be enabled to have a comprehensive picture and understanding of our country’s health status. It will also enable quick feedback on health outcomes at district and community levels as well as identify any bottlenecks and challenges to accessing health services. This will help us plan better, as well as advise how we allocate resources, if we have to achieve our ambitious goals of eliminating malaria, achieving epidemic control of HIV and AIDS and keeping mothers and children alive and healthy, among other important targets.”

She said the interactive software, the first ever in Africa, would further enable the government and stakeholders to monitor and analyse data on diseases.

“This launch of the situation room is an important milestone in our e-government agenda, which is well articulated in our 7th National Development Plan, and has, therefore, come at the right time. The e-government system is being implemented to improve service delivery to the people of Zambia through enhanced monitoring capacity, increased transparency and accountability, as well as lowering the cost of doing government business. The Health Integrated Situation Room, an electronic visualisation tool that will enable authorities at all levels to have easy access to integrated health data, fits in very well into this agenda. This tool will enable various institutions, including my office, the vice-president’s office, ministers and the secretary to the cabinet’s office to have data readily available for informed decision-making,” said Vice-President Wina. “Government recognises the value of evidence-based decision making, and the situation room is going to be a vital cog in translating health statistics into easily visualised and user friendly form that can readily be used to interrogate and assess performance, value for money in our health investments, as well as to identify the related challenges across the country. It will attain strategic importance by availing timely access to critical data across all areas of health, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and maternal and child health. It is pleasing that all this will be available at a click of a button.”

Meanwhile, Sidibe said Zambia was one of the countries demonstrating that “we can make a difference in the fight against diseases”.

“I know that few weeks back, you have been faced with Cholera outbreak, you have been able to manage. I can see that the reservoir of these cases have been reduced considerably with concerted efforts with cooperatives, civil societies, cooperating partners, and the commitment of government. Yesterday when I met the President of Zambia, I can say that I left impressed. Impressed because, the word he was using was social justice, was equity, was how to make sure that we dont leave people behind. How we can manage not just to achieve our dream of 90/90/90, but how we can be able to make sure that 100/100/100 will become a reality for all the Zambian. And that is our dream, when we are here today, it is just to make that dream a reality…The launch of this situation room, this is a situation room which is not dealing with HIV/AIDS alone. This is the first one in Africa. This will attack key health indicators and help bridge gaps where we can find them,” said Sidibe.