Five hospices have been allocated a meagre KR1 million in the 2013 National Budget as government contribution towards the medical care provided for the terminally ill, allocating KR200,000 per hospice for the whole year, but the operators say this is far from being sufficient for the load of work they cover.
Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) secretary general Suzanne Matale says funding to the hospices should not be a debatable issue because of the cardinal position the institutions hold in providing care to the vulnerable in society.
Government’s allocation of Kr 1 million for the operations of hospices is inadequate to support the needs of offering free healthcare services to the terminally ill. Reverend Matale said government should prioritise health in its efforts to deliver services to the people of Zambia. “Government should ensure all health facilities are running efficiently and were ok. That’s not debatable”.
“The hospices provide shelter and care for the terminally ill and poor people in our communities, and it’s government’s specific role to look after the wellbeing of the citizens, especially the sick and vulnerable,” she said.
The hospices have in the past provided free healthcare services to the vulnerable in society which included food, drugs and shelter to the terminally ill at a monthly cost of about KR100,000 including wages, electricity and water bills. But Rev Matale said government should address the situation of the hospices by providing the necessary funding in order to save lives and provide care to the terminally ill.Reverend Matale was commenting on the closure of in-patient wards at most hospices in the country which has resulted in increased suffering for the patients.
And Kalingalinga Hospice administrator Eswaran Haripriya said the funds released by government have not influenced operations of the hospices which have remained closed to in-patients admissions. Ms Haripriya said the funds gotten from government were insufficient to open up the wards for healthcare services for the terminally ill.
“The funds are insufficient to open the wards although we have continued with the out-patient Anti-Ritro-viral Therapy (ART) programme which is externally funded, while the major hospital operations are still grounded,” she said.