Remarks by UNDP Representative, Ms Janet RoganLaunch of the National Health Strategic Plan

Aug 18, 2017

Min Health

Min Central Province

PSs and government senior officials

Cooperating partners, Tom Crubaugh, US Embassy

Board Chairperson CHAZ

Diplomatic

Distinguished guests

Media

 

I am delighted to represent the UN in Zambia at today’s launch of the strategic health plan 2017-2021, in particular WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNAIDS, which are the main agencies dealing with health issues. I would like to commend the government led by the Ministry of Health for the inclusive and consultative approach taken to develop this ambitious plan. It is truly a strategic plan for transformation in line with the aspirations of the 7NDP. The 7NDP prioritises health as a key economic investment in the human capital of the country in line with SDG 3 - to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

 

When we look back at the MDGs that has brought us to the SDGs, we can see the progression and how much remains to be done. The Africa Region continues to struggle with unique health challenges:

 

✓ We are grappling with an extremely high burden of communicable diseases, and a rapidly rising burden of noncommunicable diseases;

 

✓ We are facing a rapid introduction of new, or re-launch of old, interventions that can be considered critical in addressing specific health challenges

✓ And we are in an environment of inherited poor investments in health systems, below what is needed to tackle these challenges.

 

These are some of the reasons why the indicators in many countries in our Region are not improving in line with the increased levels of investment and activity in the health sector and why we need a comprehensive and transformative approach like that in this new Strategic Plan.

 

1. The Plan uses an evidence-based approach, taking into account the overall health challenges and causes of ill health(morbidity) and death (mortality) in Zambia in order to define the strategic direction

 

2. The document is a Strategy for HEALTH, not a Strategy just of the MINISTRY OF HEALTH. This is important, because it is for all actors in the health sector, not only the public health services. The Ministry of Health is the steward of the health agenda. The Plan also sets out the decentralisation of service delivery to Provincial Governments with a clear separation of roles and responsibilities.

 

3. There has been extensive consultation with different stakeholders which ownership. This is our DOCUMENT.

 

4. The Strategy is comprehensive, addressing all the issues that have an effect on the health of our communities. This is good - it is client-focused, people-centered, and not just focused on interventions. 

 

The strategy allows the country to continually place emphasis on health priorities as they emerge. For example, at present we are having an increasing realization of the high disease burden due to the NCDs, and the strategy has clear directions on how we need to move towards addressing them. 5....

5. The Strategic Plan is well aligned with the 7thNational Development Plan , which is very much rights based. Quality health is a right.

 

6. The Strategic Plan is aligned to current global and regional paradigms in addressing the health challenges, particularly placing emphasis on Universal Health Coverage as the overall focus for its six policy objectives.

 

Of course, there are financial implications, and as United Nations, we would like to continue to advocate for more domestic resources to respond to the national health needs. We continue to urge increased budget allocations for health in line with the Heads of States ‘commitment of 15% for health, well known as Abuja Declaration!

 

The implementation of this plan will be complex. It takes an integrated cross-government approach and involves both public and private sector. It recognises the on-going need for external partner support and has incorporated that in full partnership by developing the plan together and building on the strong partnerships already existing in the health sector.

 

The plan aims to achieve, by 2021,

Malaria elimination

Reduced maternal mortality from 398 per 100,000 live births to less than 100; and under-5 child mortality from 75 to less than 35 per 1000 live births.

Epidemic control of HIV from 48,000 new infections to less than 5000

To have a well-established and functioning national health insurance scheme coverage from the current 4% to 100%

 

These targets are all achievable but they need the action not only of government but of each one of us. It is the responsibility of each individual to look after their own health, including through eating a healthy diet, through taking exercise, and through taking advantage of health checks available through clinics. 

 

Earlier this week, we had the first national HIV/AIDS Test, Counsel, Treat day. Since then there has been a lot of confusion about compulsory testing. I look forward to seeing the actual guidelines for health practitioners for how to implement the new HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment policy, which fully protect rights. 

Ladies and gentlemen, It is important to be tested so that your doctor can take account of your status in deciding treatment for any illness. It is important to be tested, so that you can know the state of your own health and, if need be, get treatment both for your own sake and for that of your sexual partner or partners. And for the sake of your children because HIV can be a killer just like malaria and TB and polio and cholera and typhoid... HIV can be a killer if you are infected and do nothing about it. And a dead parent is no use to a living child.

 

To me, the major issue here in our society in Zambia underlying the debate about HIV testing is stigmatisation. Which arises from fear, ignorance, malice, bigotry and shame. We want to shame those infected with HIV. Well, I say no shame on those who are HIV positive - they know their status and can be treated so that the virus is controlled in their body and is no longer infectious. Instead I say - Shame on you, all those of you who do not know your status and refuse to find out. 

 

Every woman or girl in this country who becomes pregnant will be tested so that she can get the right treatment for herself and her child. So that’s one half of the country potentially taken care of in any case over time. So, is this an issue mainly of the men in Zambia? What is it about, gentlemen, that you don’t want to know the state of health of your own body? For any one of us, not knowing our status does not mean we are not infected. It just means we don't care and don't know how tomprotect our health. Shame on ignorance, shame on not knowing, that is true immorality. Ladies and gentlemen, I know my status - do you?

 

This National Strategic Health Plan is what is needed to enable this country to become a prosperous middle income country by 2030, with healthy, educated, well-employed men and women, with our children healthy and learning in schools. Government and partners are playing our part for SDG3 and the health of the people living in Zambia. We need the people living in Zambia to play their part too, so that together we can eliminate the infections that have decimated our society and left so many families in shreds.

I commend all those who have played a part in designing this National Strategic Health Plan and anticipate full implementation! Thank you

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