IT is important to acknowledge that Government has stuck to one of its campaign promises of bringing primary health care as close to the communities as possible.
This can be attested by the reduced number of women dying during pregnancy and children dying at birth.
All this can be achieved through huge investment in health infrastructure, technologies and equipment, human resources and financing.
But the Government feels more needs to be done to reduce the disease burden as seen from the many initiatives it is employing such as courting the Swedish Government to help enhance Zambia’s primary health care systems.
Zambia, under the Ministry of Health strategic plan for 2011 to 2015, recognises health as one of the priority sectors that contribute to the well-being of the nation and, therefore, remains committed to providing quality health services to all its citizens.
It also recognises that a healthy population is critical to improved production and productivity, Zambia will continue investing in the health sector, in order to ensure sustainability of the nation’s human capital base, required for sustainable economic growth.
Thus, it is in this line that Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Rayford Mbulu has requested for support from the Swedish Government.
Mr Mbulu said Zambia had embarked on the transformation of the health sector but needed Sweden assistance because of its advanced medical technology.
He said Government was focusing on improving the quality of health delivery and that this could easily be achieved with support from technologically advanced countries such as Sweden.
Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom said her country could, in the short term, assist Zambia establish a specialised medical institution to treat spinal injuries.
Ms Wallstrom said this would be a worthwhile project as it would also come with other rare specialists such as neurologists.
Sweden has already facilitated the establishment of similar facilities in Botswana and Namibia where people have greatly benefitted from the gesture.
Much as the Zambian health care has scored some achievements, it continues to face challenges which include high disease burden, inadequate medical staff, weak logistics management in the supply of drugs and medical supplies.
The sector has been hit badly with inadequate and inequitable distribution of health infrastructure, equipment and transport, and challenges related to health information systems and inadequate financing among others.
It is hoped that with partners like Sweden coming on board, Zambia can meet its strategic plan of overcoming these constraints and challenges in order to ensure effective implementation and attainment of the national health objectives.
It is also gratifying that Government has extended such initiatives to other important sectors: agriculture and tourism. Diversification is the answer to improving the agricultural sector especially with the unreliable rainfall partner due to climate change.
We say diversification is the way to go because there are reports of looming hunger in some parts of the country due to inadequate rainfall pattern.
Hunger would be history if drought resistant crops are encouraged as well as conservation agriculture is practiced and enhanced.