Prioritize health sector, govt urged

The Patriotic Front (PF) government should prioritize the health sector by ensuring timely procurement of drugs and other medical facilities, says former Information Minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha.

Gen. Shikapwasha, who was speaking in Parliament, wondered why the PF government had prioritized by-elections instead of supplying health institutions with drugs and medical facilities.

“While our people are crying over poor health service delivery in most parts of the country Mr. Speaker we find it possible to finance huge and expensive by-elections.

“We find it  hard  for government to prioritize building of a huge stadium such as the one in Mongu when people there require health and medical services, we spend billions to build stadia when people are sick and are not going to use these  facilities,” said Lt. Gen Shikapwasha.

He reminded the House that during one of the debates he was ruled out of order when he wanted to find out if the government was in order to prioritize by-elections when the country needed billions for improved goods and service delivery.

Lt. Gen Shikapwasha said that 75 parliamentary seats were being petitioned by the PF and if nullified so much money will have been spent instead of procuring drugs

“I was ruled out of order because I wanted debate on the 75 seats which had been petitioned by those in government. I was told that it would be out of order because the matter was in court but if I had put the question at that time we could have seen that our nation had priorities upside down,” he said.

He said that there was a great desire for political power when children were dying of malaria, a disease which was preventable and treatable

“Billions of money is going into by-elections at the expense of improving the health sector, we have huge challenges Mr. Speaker, we have to re-look at our priorities Mr. Speaker Sir. We need to be concise about what priorities are needed for the country in order to move forward, it was unrealistic Mr. Speaker to spend so much money on celebrating 100 years of Lusaka and spend huge sums of money when people are still suffering from malaria,” he said.

And UPND Monze Central Member of Parliament Jack Mwiimbu appealed to government to take seriously the challenges the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) was facing.

Mr. Mwiimbu said that it was sad that because of poor planning for UTH, over 100 people were dying everyday.

“I had an opportunity to work as Town Clerk of Lusaka and on average about 100 people in Lusaka were dying at UTH every day. In a month about 3000 people were buried on average. This is how serious and desperate the situation for improved service or medical delivery is at UTH and other health facilities in the country,” he said.

Mr. Mwiimbu said that it would be prudent if government utilized the money raised from the removal of subsidy to improve the health sector.