HEALTH Minister Sylvia Masebo says the health sector has been faced with issues of human resource, reduction of resource budget, mismanagement of resources as well as insufficient drugs in health centres.

Masebo was responding to a question from Zambezi East UPND member of parliament Brian Kambita who wanted to find out what challenges she was facing emanating from the PF inefficiencies.

“The situation that the health sector currently faces is a very serious situation. And what has worsened it obviously is the COVID-19. There are major areas where we have problems, the issue of human resource. Because of this COVID, it means that with very few numbers now, obviously they are overworked and it means it has affected service delivery. As you know the resource budget for health, if you look at the past three years you will notice that there has been a reduction and what is also worse is that there has been mismanagement of these resources going by what we have been reading and even going by the reports of the Auditor General. That also has been a challenge,” Masebo said.

“The other issue has to do with the availability of drugs. A number of us know what happened during the campaign, it was the cry of many citizens that every time they went to the health centres, instead of being given medicines, they were given a prescription. Meaning that somewhere we did not have sufficient drugs to meet the demand which was put on the health system arising from this COVID.”

Masebo noted that most UPND MPs were not vaccinated because health programmes had been politicized.

She, however, hoped all members of political parties would be encouraged to get vaccinated this time around.

“What I noticed also is when we politicize health programmes, you find that those in the opposite party will not come forward. And so you will find a situation where a lot of members of the UPND, for example having been an opposition political party did not vaccinate. So we are hoping that this time around we can ensure that all members of political parties be it opposition or ruling and all Zambians must be encouraged to take their vaccination. It’s important and necessary especially now that we have been given this alert that come December, we may have the worst outbreak and we could lose our loved ones,” she said.

And responding to a question from Mansa Central PF member of parliament Dr Chitalu Chilufya on the measures government took to prepare for the fourth wave, Masebo said government would among other measures encourage vaccination coverage.

“Government has taken the following measures to ensure that the country is adequately prepared for the anticipated fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which is expected in December 2021; continued surveillance and testing to ensure timely detection and management of COVID-19 cases. Disease intelligence and surveillance activities continue to be heightened at health care facilities, points of entry, transport corridors and various congregant settings such as schools and prisons. Improving COVID-19 vaccination coverage by ensuring acquisition of more vaccines. Vaccine advocacy, communication and social mobilization. Enhancing community sensitization to demystify myths and improve vaccine acceptability in addition to emphasizing compliance with the five golden rules,” she said.

Meanwhile, Masebo said government, through the Ministry of Health, was working to address some of the concerns of countries which still had Zambia on their red list.

“Government has taken the following measures to ensure that Zambia is removed from the red list of countries. All travelers out of Zambia are tested in the African Union Trusted Travel platform certified laboratories and certificates are issued by this same platform. Government through the Ministry of Health is working to address some of the concerns of countries that still have us on their red list and I remain confident of a positive outcome soon. The United Kingdom and other partners have pledged to support the Ministry of Health and the Zambia National Public Health Institute in strengthening genomic sequence. And ensuring timely sharing of data. In addition, we will continue rolling out our vaccination and certification programme,” said Masebo.

“The House may wish to note that Zambia is now in the green zone with a sustained positivity rate of less than five percent across the country since 22nd of August 2021. It is important to state that sovereign states and territories remain within their rights to determine who qualifies to enter their countries. However, Madam Speaker, Germany removed restrictions on Zambians traveling to their country while we remain on the red list of others such as the UK.”