Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says Zambia recorded about 7.1 million cases of Malaria last year with 1,875 deaths.

And Dr Chanda says Zambia loses over 700 mothers and three times the number of neonates from preventable causes annually.

Meanwhile, European Union Charge’d affairs to Zambia Bruno Hanses has pledged the unions support in crafting an effective communications strategy on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking during a virtual meeting, Wednesday, Dr Chanda said there was a significant funding gap of around US$6 million for Malaria case management and commodities.

“Your Excellency, Malaria is still a public health problem in Zambia with about 7.1 million cases reported last year and 1,875 deaths also reported last year. The government will therefore continue strengthening our interventions toward Malaria eliminations in order to effectively respond to changing the epidemiology situation, which has led to the resurgence of Malaria in most parts of the country. Currently, the major challenge in the fight against Malaria is the availability of commodities for Malaria diagnosis and treatment. We have a significant funding gap of around US$6 million for Malaria case management and commodities and any support in this regard will greatly strengthen the fight against Malaria and will be much appreciated,” Dr Chanda said.

And Dr Chanda revealed that the country was losing 700 mothers annually.

“While acknowledging the enormous support that the EU has given to Zambia over the years, let me also highlight some of the key challenges that the health sector continues to face and notwithstanding the significant improvements in maternal and child mortality rates from the Zambia Demographic Health Survey of 2018, current rates continue to be a public health concern. Every year, Zambia is losing more than 700 mothers and three times the number of neonates from preventable causes. The Ministry will therefore continue to seek for additional investments to strengthen the provision of maternal, child, newborn, adolescent health and nutritional services in order to reduce morbidity and mortality. One of the main challenges that requires urgency support is the strengthening of the referral system through purchase of ambulances and medical commodities and capacity building in management of pregnancy complications,” he said.

Dr Chanda insisted that the COVID-19 vaccine would be well handled.

“The government, through the Ministry of Health, is in charge of the COVID vaccine programme and we will ensure that it is well handled. Your Excellency, I wish to recognise your support on communication strategy towards COVID vaccines. There has been a lot of skepticism especially on social media. We have COVID denialists those who deny that there is no COVID. Those conspiracy theorists who say the vaccine will do this and this to people. Things that are not substantiated by science. There shall be total transparency and accountability in the COVID vaccine issue. There will be no COVID apartheid. We cannot segregate who gets the COVID vaccines, we need to save all lives. I am very happy that various missions accredited to Zambia have come in support as well. So when the COVID vaccine is available, they will cater for everyone who is resident in Zambia. Although I know some foreign missions have hinted that they want to bring in their own vaccines but of course there will be one government vaccine programme,” said Dr Chanda.

And Hanses said the EU and its member states had mobilized a total of €58 million since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Since the COVID-19 broke out, we have been able to mobilize additional support of initially €2.7 million that we mobilized last year in order to procure essential medicine and life saving commodities. The main objective is to help assure the continuity of routine health service delivery and fill in the gaps of drug supply during these challenging times. On top of this, we have recently been able to mobilize for Zambia additional support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount is very sizable. It is an amount that has gone through the EU but also through our member states. This amounts to a total of €58 million. Much of this funding was invested in the mitigation of medium and long term social economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been able to support among others the vulnerable families through the social cash transfer program and health facilities,” said Hanses.

“It is important to look at the vaccination and here again I will just like to report that the EU is one of the key donors of the vaccine and we are pleased to see that Zambia is likely to benefit from the covax facility. You have already submitted the COVID-19 deployment plan and we would like to congratulate you for this plan and we trust that it will be approved in due course. We realise that successful and efficient roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines it needs the trust and confidence in the health sector. And in this regard, I would like to assure you of support from the EU and our member states in developing and disseminating good communication strategy.”