By CHUSA SICHONE –
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has assured that concerns by some stakeholders on the signed National Health Insurance (NHI) Act will be looked into if need be.
President Lungu said this when he officiated at this year’s Labour Day celebrations in Lusaka yesterday in response to calls by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) for wide consultations on the NHI Act.
“We will continue consulting you, even on the NHI, we will continue consulting you. Parliament continues sitting, if there is need for amendments, we will take this to Parliament and we will make amendments.
“This is not cast in concrete because even concrete we can break and build but we will not be swayed and held back because you have differed with us. Keep talking to us and we will hear you,” President Lungu said.
ILO director for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique Alexio Musindo said earlier that as the Government embarked on finalising the NHI Scheme’s design, it was crucial that social partners and other key stakeholders were closely engaged to build consensus.
Mr Musindo said stakeholder engagement was in line with the ILO Convention 144 Tripartite Consultation Convention that Zambia had ratified, which called for promotion of effective consultation at national level between public authorities, employers’ and workers.
He said national consultations would guarantee that the NHI Scheme reached its objectives of providing adequate financial protection, access to health care services while also ensuring coordination and alignment of social security systems.
ZCTU president Chishimba Nkole said the labour movement would continue opposing policies and programmes that increased poverty among workers and were done without wider consultations, like the NHI Act.
Mr Nkole said dialogue and consultations were cornerstones of democracy and that the NHI Act was an unpopular law among Zambian workers and would be pursued until justice prevailed.
He said Zambian workers were already overburdened, with the majority being in the informal sector and did not know how the NHI Scheme was going to capture them save for the approximately 10 per cent formal sector workers who would shoulder the burden.
Mr Nkole said ZCTU made various efforts to call for exhaustive consultation on the NHI Bill before it became law but their appeals fell on deaf ears.
President Lungu assented to the National Health Insurance Act No. 2 of 2018 on April 25, 2018 which aims at providing equitable and quality health care for all.