The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for accelerated efforts in implementing health related programmes which will consequently help achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before the deadline of 2015.
WHO Country Representative Olusegun Babaniyi said Zambia was on course in attaining the MDG number four (4) on reducing mortality rates.
Dr. Babaniyi however said despite maternal mortality rates declining in Zambia, they were still among the highest in Africa.
He said this when he addressed officers at the Eastern Provincial Medical Office in Chipata today.
He said WHO remained committed to supporting government in implementing priority health programmes in order to reduce the disease burden, which emanates from the epidemic of communicable diseases and non communicable diseases in Zambia.
Dr. Babaniyi said communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS have continued to be major burdens in Zambia.
He said it was therefore important to strengthen implementation of programmes at the district level.
Dr. Babaniyi commended medical officers in Eastern province for implementing preventive and curative health related programmes which he said had contributed to the marginal gains which the country had recorded, particularly the reduction in maternal and under-five mortality rates.
He also stated that Zambia was facing a growing burden of non communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and cancer which he said were responsible for about 27 per cent of deaths in the country with 46.7 per cent occurring in people aged below 60 years.
And Eastern Province Minister Malozo Sichone said the Patriotic Front (PF) government was keen to reduce mortality rates of women and children as evidenced by some of its key policies.
Mr. Sichone said government was concerned with matters affecting mothers and children and had therefore detached the portfolio of children and mother health from the Ministry of Health and placed it under the Ministry of Community Development.
He said the World Health Organisation was a great partner in the health sector and that government was pleased to work with WHO in both policy and strategic issues.
Meanwhile, Eastern Province Medical Officer Kennedy Malama said the region was struggling to reduce maternal rates because of low attendance in antenatal care which stood at 2.8 percent, below the set target of four (4) percent.
Dr. Malama said there was need to improve the availability of antenatal care either through improving staffing levels and basic equipment to ensure a significant reduction in the maternal rates.
And the World Health Organisation has donated a desktop computer to the medical office in Chipata to support integrated disease surveillance and blue trunk library containing a collection of books on several health topics for reference by health professionals.