General Nursing Council of Zambia (GNCZ) Spokesperson Thom Yang’ana has urged health practitioners to always respect the dignity of their clients, saying abusing their privileged positions can scare away patients from seeking further health services.

And Swedish Ambassador to Zambia Henrik Cederin says the embassy is supporting government in strengthening different building blocks that make up an effective health system.

The duo was speaking at a seminar organized by the Swedish Embassy and UNZA School of Public Health, Wednesday, under the topic; ‘The right to health and universal Health Coverage in Zambia- is everyone included?’

The seminar was moderated by Panos Institute for Southern Africa executive director Lilian Saka Kiefer, with different individuals making presentations, among them, World Health Organization National Professional Officer Solomon Kagulula who gave his presentation on the ‘right to health and universal health coverage’.

Thom Yang’ana, who is also GNCZ Manager Regulation and Compliance, said health practitioners should always respect the uniqueness and dignity of their clients in order to motivate them to access more health services.

“As professionals and those who are graduating to be practitioners, we must always respect the uniqueness and the dignity of the people we attend to. That way we shall motivate them to even come again for post services. Also we must not abuse privileged professional relationships with clients, for this has the potential to scare clients from seeking further health services,” he said.

“We are very powerful in our own right as health practitioners and patients look at us as the messiah or Saviour. There is a temptation of abusing our privileged positions and that can deny a number of our people having access to health services. As health professionals, we should always not abuse our privileged position. After all without patients who is a nurse, who is a doctor, we are there because they are there. Without them we can’t be there, that we must know that.”

Yang’ana further urged health practitioners to protect confidential information concerning their clients.

“This motivates clients to reveal more about their health condition and consequently seek a full package of health services. When the public know that this practitioners do not keep confidential information, they will never tell you everything about their condition,” said Yang’ana.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Cederin said the embassy was supporting government in strengthening different building blocks that made up an effective health system.

“Sweden is ready to support Zambia to challenge barriers to everyone’s right to access equal health, of good quality. To reach that end, we need to work more to address stigma and discrimination, on challenging and confronting stereotypical norms, attitudes, harmful practices and behaviours that prevent good health for every individual,” he said.

“Equal access to health is not only a health issue but also a rights issue. Every person should be able to access quality heath services no matter their age, gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or any other status. We believe health practitioners have a crucial role to ensure that the right to health is respected.”

He encouraged the steps Zambia had taken towards the Universal Health Coverage, giving an example of the National Health Insurance Act.

“Universal Health Coverage is grounded in equity and the human right to health and, for that reason, aims to ensure that no one is left behind. We therefore, encourage the steps Zambia has taken towards UHC, including most recently through its National Health Insurance Act,” Ambassador Cederin.

Cederin, however, observed that despite significant investments in more and better trained health workers, Zambia was still struggling with maternal and new-born deaths, as well as, high numbers of stunted children.

He further said challenges in providing sexual and reproductive health services had resulted in Zambia having a comparably high number of teenage pregnancies and low use of contraceptives.