PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says some drug supply challenges can be dealt with straightforwardly, while others require interrogation, adding that there appears to be a mismatch between what is obtaining on the ground and what is being said.

And President Hichilema says the advert for recruitment of health workers will be published today.

Meanwhile, President Hichilema says it should be normal to see him conducting random visits to various Ministries as this is a way of improving service delivery.

Speaking to journalists after having a two hour long closed door meeting with Ministry of Health officials, Thursday, President Hichilema said government would ensure that drugs were available not in one location but across the country.

“We are delighted that we came over here to have an interaction with the Ministry of Health on a number of issues, particularly focusing on how we can work together to ameliorate the perceived issue of drug shortage in our health facilities. So we have had good conversations around this issue to isolate where the challenges may be and basically how to resolve those challenges working as a team with the Ministry. With a single minded intention, we want to ensure that drugs are available for our people when they are in need of those drugs, not in one location but across the country. The meeting revealed to us quite a number of issues. Some are straight forward and are being dealt with, some require a bit of interrogation. There also appears to be a mismatch between what is being said and what is actually on the ground,” he said.

“We were able to engage with the provincial medical officers in 10 provinces who gave us the situation on the ground. So hopefully, the publicity side of the Ministry will deliver the message to the public to see what is on the ground so that we take out distortions and remain with facts. Another matter is the recruitment of 11,200 medical staff. We made sure that we do not continue with the recruitment process without dealing with issues that may result in maybe misapplication or misallocation of medical staff as required on the ground. We spent time to look at what health facilities on the ground need most. I am talking about the priorities so that we can overall improve the patient to medical staff ratio.”

And President Hichilema said he was pleased with (ZAMMSA) leadership, further announcing that the recruitment of health workers advert would be published today.

“We are aware of the ills of the past and we want to make sure that when we buy drugs, we do not buy expired drugs. When we buy drugs, we do not have to pay more than what is necessary. We must be prudent. When the drugs have been bought, they must reach the intended user. As an administration, these are issues that we must work on. Talking to provincial medical officers, they have confirmed and they are happy that the flow of funds to hospitals is working well than ever before. There is consistency and that we will be able to combine the central supply of drugs plus on the spot purchases to close the gap. I am very pleased with the interactions I had with the new leadership at ZAMMSA. I am pleased that the changes are in line with our objectives to clean up the system and make sure that we are efficient and drugs are available for patients,” President Hichilema said.

“The utilisation of these drugs is important and it must match with buying processes. In the past, it was not matching and we shall work on that. The health recruitment advert is coming out tomorrow but we are also ensuring inclusiveness. In the past when there was recruitment, only certain people got recruited. Jobs in the public sector must be available to all citizens across the country. That is part of our agenda to reunite this country. So the teachers have their own day. I will be at the Ministry of Education someday. However, it is similar issues, we are doing it properly and inclusive. Any job opportunity in the public sector must be inclusive. We were elected into office to serve the whole country.”

Meanwhile, President Hichilema said State House was not his office.

“This is only the beginning and there are works that we’ll begin from here to make sure that we do it correctly, at the right price, with quality. This should be normal going forward. Today you will see us at the Ministry of Health and tomorrow the President will be at Lands. I may be at Local Government or elsewhere. This is something you must expect going forward. The President’s office is not State House, the President is a servant working with Ministers and Permanent Secretaries and yourselves to make sure that we improve service delivery to the people of Zambia. So you better get used to this. There are legacy issues in the health sector as there are in different Ministries. We all know that the country was not run well. We must accept that instead of fighting this fight, we must accept and start from there,” said President Hichilema.

“So there are legacy issues of maybe amounts of suppliers that were owed in the past. There are legacy issues in the fuel unpaid bills. What we are doing is unblocking these legacy issues but at the same time making sure that going forward, we do not create inefficiencies in the way we run sectors. We must make sure that we stop being wasteful. As a country, we have been extremely wasteful and we made things that are not correct to be viewed to be normal. Change does not mean continuing doing wrong things in order to make anyone happy, one or two people that could be the supplier or someone along the chain. So we are packaging these issues in order to improve service delivery and not hang up with issues of the past.”