IT IS a mark of great confidence in Zambia that the Swedish Government has decided to reinstate aid to the health sector.
The wanton theft of foreign health aid which happened six years ago in the Ministry of Health should never be repeated now that financial support has been unblocked.
In 2009, Zambia’s health support from Sweden was suspended following the misapplication of funds in the middle of a five-year agreement (2006-10) for the health sector.
Some Ministry of Health workers were arrested with some arraigned before courts of law where they faced various charges.
Our concern for foreign aid should not be construed to mean that local funds allocated to the Ministry of Health should be vulnerable to misappropriation.
Neither donor nor local budgetary support to the health sector or any other sector should end up in the private pockets of individuals.
This is because it is the duty of Government to provide adequate health services to all its citizens whether young or old.
There are various levels at which health is achieved, the first being preventive measures which can be achieved by observing healthy lifestyles, beginning with wholesome nutrition which should be supported by physical activity.
But when this fails, health institutions come into place to provide the necessary medication and treatment to help an individual live a healthy style.
There is no argument that the health care system in Zambia needs a lot of resources to achieve desired results.
This is because apart from adequate medicines, health institutions need massive investment in equipment and engagement of human resources.
Looking at the Government’s current resource envelope, it is evident that it cannot adequately meet all the needs in the health sector.
If the 2015 national budget cuts are anything to go by, then all sectors have inadequate resources for their programmes.
Already, Government is in a budget deficit of K2.3 m because of the revised mineral royalty tax from 20 per cent to nine.
It is therefore important for Government to put in place stringent measures that will deter workers in the Ministry of Health from converting public funds to personal use.
Unfortunately, in the Ministry of Health, the trend of converting public funds to private use seems to be widespread.
It appears some workers in the Ministry of Health have not learnt a lesson from the 2009 financial scandal.
In the last few months, reports of some Ministry of Health workers being in contact with the law for wrong reasons have surfaced, including the pilferage of Government branded medicines.
This cannot be allowed to continue now or in future .
It must be made clear that the theft, misuse and misapplication of taxpayers’ money, whether foreign sourced or locally generated, is a crime against the people of Zambia, particularly the vulnerable who are totally dependent on Government facilities for their health needs.
The onus, therefore, is on the Ministry of Health to put in place adequate controls and safeguards that will protect what belongs to the people of Zambia and at the same time deal quickly and decisively with erring officers.