HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says the Ministry of Health will restore confidence in all stakeholders by ensuring transparency in all its activities.

And Dr Chanda says the Ministry of Health will soon engage the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) on how politicians should carry out their activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Chanda was responding to a question from Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu who asked what the Ministry was doing to ensure that Zambians’ confidence was restored in the Ministry of Health, Wednesday.

Dr Chanda had initially said he would give a comprehensive statement on the matter next week but Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini said although he was privileged to give a comprehensive statement on the happenings at the Ministry of Health, it was important for the Minister to provide an answer to the question as it was related to what was currently on the floor of the House.

“I think to do justice on the subject, it is a very comprehensive issue because you are talking about structural issues, systematic issues, the supply chain issues and all those restructuring issues that we are talking about. However to give him comfort what are we doing to restore confidence? As the Minister of Health I am actually doing a lot to restore confidence to the Zambian people and the cooperating partners. I have given assurance, even in my statement to the Zambian people that the products that we are getting in this pandemic, which can be attested by the huge number of recoveries and the reducing number of patients who are admitted is because of the quality of care which we are giving our patients. So I want to assure the honourable member that irrespective of some happenings that may have happened in the Ministry, the Ministry is fully in charge. Whether through ZAMRA, Medical Stores, the Ministry of Health itself, the health facilities, our provincial health directors to ensure quality health care,” Dr Chanda said.

“So, I want to give assurance that Zambians should have confidence in the health staff and we are going to restore the confidence of the Ministry of Health to the Zambian people and to the cooperating partners. It is the same assurance that we have given to the cooperating partners. We are not going to look the other way. When we bring a comprehensive statement, some of the key measures that the Ministry is taking will be tabled. We are restoring confidence by being very transparent, very open, including on the COVID vaccine issue which was the topical issue in Zambia like there is something to hide. There will be no back room vaccine. Everything will be tabled after Cabinet, if Cabinet gives a go ahead, we will come to this House with the information on COVID and Zambians are free to debate on the COVID vaccine just like any other aspect whether its Vitamin C, the oxygen issue and any other issue.”

And Dr Chanda said his Ministry would soon engage ECZ on how politicians should carry out their activities during the pandemic.

“The coronavirus is colour blind, is tribal blind and does not know any political affiliation. The people who we have lost in the country belong to all sections, churches and political parties. I must mention that we are dealing with a pandemic which has affected all the 10 provinces, all the districts of Zambia. This is an election year that we are in, His Excellency the President has directed the Ministry of Health, we will be engaging with the Electoral Commission of Zambia to see what measures we need to put in place. We need to guide our political activists just like we are guiding traditional leaders, the church mother bodies that we have engaged very closely and we are engaging with the politicians,” Dr Chanda said.

“I am happy that even the opposition UPND had sought advice in terms of how to conduct the national convention and that is very commendable. We have engaged all the key civil and political leaders in the country to make sure that the pandemic does not devastate us. If you go to the hospital, you will not see UPND patients or PF patients, you will see Zambian patients. The statistics that were announced are not mere numbers, these are real people, our parents, our brothers and our sisters. So this will not have a political tone, we will make sure that all Zambians adhere to the guidelines that are being given otherwise we risk the pandemic overwhelming the whole country.”

Meanwhile, Dr Chanda said his Ministry had set up a task force of local experts and scientists to advise on the way forward with regards to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As a preventive intervention, COVID-19 vaccines have since been developed and have shown to be effective and safe for use in the general population. However, Zambia is consulting various stakeholders on the matter and in addition, the Ministry of Health has set up a task force of local experts and scientists to advise on the whole process and ensure due diligence is done considering the safety of the vaccines,” said Chanda.