HEALTH minister Chitalu Chilufya says health inequalities continue to persist despite the country making significant progress in improving the health of its population.
During the dissemination of key findings on the health equity and social determinants of the heath equity and social determinants of heath in Zambia study, Dr Chilufya said equity in health was the absence of potentially remediable, systematic differences in one or more aspects of health across socially, economically, demographically or geographically defined population groups or subgroups.
He said health inequality was the variations in health status across individuals in a population.
Dr Chilufya said in recognising the fact that economic productivity was a function of a healthy citizenry, the government was determined to transform the country into a nation of healthy and productive people.
“To achieve this, emphasis has been placed on attainment of Universal Health Coverage through strengthening health systems and services using the Primary Health Care Approach as the main vehicle of health service delivery. This will ensure that Zambia fulfils its commitment of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development core principle of ‘leaving no one behind’,” he said.
“It should be noted that as much as the country has made significant progress in improving the health of its population, health inequalities continue to persist. They are evident between provinces, and also across subgroups of the population of different economic status, education level, occupation, place of residence, age and sex.”
Dr Chilufya said to understand the depth of the impact of Social Determinants of Health, the ministry carried out a study with support from the European Union and World Health Organisation, whose results show the hurdles that determine health and need to be addressed in order to reduce health inequalities.
He said in response to the identified multiple Social Determinants of Health, the country had developed the National Health in All Policies Strategic Framework 2017-2021 whose premises was on collaborative mechanisms, Health Lens Analysis, Health Impact Assessments and Partnership Frameworks.
“The HIAP framework takes cognisant of the importance of inter-sectoral actions within the sectors of government and actors outside government such as NGOs, private sector, UN, professional associations, civil society, academia and research institutions which promote health development using all-of-government and all-of-society approaches in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” Dr Chilufya said.
He urged all line ministers, private sector, partners and other key stakeholders to support the implementation of the study recommendations.
Dr Chilufya said Zambia was committed to advance health equitably through an equity-oriented health sector.
He said such could only be possible when the country understands the areas where equity needs to be more pronounced.
Dr Chilufya said the results of the study should ensure that when used, they changed the identified inequalities.
“In order to achieve this, investment in the health sector must be treated as inputs towards raising the overall productivity and hence contribution to economic growth. The more the country focuses on responding to the Social Determinants of Health and use of study findings available, the more issues of equity will be tackled,” said Dr Chilufya.