TRANSPARENCY International Zambia chapter president Reuben Lifuka says President Edgar Lungu should not sacrifice people’s health for political expediency.
Reacting to The Mast expose warning about the collapse of the country’s health system and mismanagement of funds in the Ministry of Health, Lifuka urged President Lungu to be bold.
Recently, the Ministry of Health spent K500 million in three days in unexplained circumstances.
Sources told The Mast that the country should expect a holocaust due to the shortage of essential drugs in all public health facilities.
Sources also said donors have withheld funding to the ministry until Dr Chilufya is removed from there.
They also said K1.4 billion and US $1 million had been mismanaged by the same ministry.
Lifuka urged President Lungu not to trivialize health issues.
“The continued allegations of impropriety at the Ministry of Health is a source of concern and one that needs immediate action. President Lungu should not be oblivious of these media exposes and the complaints that are being made about the happenings at the Ministry of Health,” he said.
“The current state of affairs at the Ministry of Health needs the urgent and undivided attention of President Lungu. He has to be bold and make the necessary, albeit politically painful, decisions including making personnel changes. President Lungu should not be seen to be sacrificing the wellbeing of millions of Zambians at the altar of political expediency. As TI-Zambia, we are definitely concerned at the rather high burn rate ratio at the Ministry of Health of funds received from the Treasury and it is our sincere hope that the reported K500 million spent in three days went to budgeted for and priority expenditure. It will be a great injustice to the people of this country who are eager to receive quality healthcare services, if these funds are prioritised to pay tenderpreneurs and suppliers who are closely linked to those in power.”
Lifuka urged the government to set priorities right and rescue the health system.
“We urge the Government to get its priorities right and seek to serve the greater good of the people and not the interests of a few. We want to categorically state that it is immoral and illegal for any person who seeks to enrich themselves at this moment of a pandemic that is ravaging the lives of millions of people,” Lufuka said. “We call upon the office of the Auditor General to take interest in the manner that funds released to the Ministry of Health are being managed. The Zambian people remain expectant to receive timely and high quality social services including healthcare despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zambian government is duty bound to ensure that the health care system remains robust and responsive to various needs of the populace and it is therefore incumbent upon those mandated to lead institutions like the Ministry of Health to plan and prudently manage both financial and technical resources at their disposal, given the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He further asked the government to find ways of regaining donor confidence so that they continue funding the Ministry of Health.
“Government, now more than ever before, needs the support of the cooperating partners and the local private sector. The pandemic could be with us for a long while and the government has to court the support of different actors,” said Lifuka. “However, confidence and trust in the financial stewardship and public procurement at the Ministry of Health is cardinal and these are presently in short supply to the detriment of many Zambians who may not access the quality of healthcare they deserve due to erratic supply of drugs and other materials.”