A Zambian Parliamentarian, Charles Kakoma has urged the European Union (EU) and the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries to critically address the issue of human resource to ensure sustainable progress in the health sector beyond 2015 as well as ensure the right to health and universal access to healthcare.
Mr. Kakoma, who is a co-rapporteur for the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly for the committee on Social Affairs and Environment, yesterday gave a report on human resource in ACP countries during the meeting held in Brussels.
ZANIS reports that this is according to a press statement released in Lusaka on June 20th by First Secretary for Press & Public Relations at the Zambian Embassy in Brussels, Lambwe Kachali.
Mr. Kakoma said according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data indicated that ACP countries were in dire need of human resources, where 38 out of the 57 countries faced severe shortages of health workers.
“Reasons for this severe shortage in human capital varies among ACP countries but it has already been resolved that this shortage needs to be reduced in order to contribute in the goal of achieving the right to health,” he said.
Mr. Kakoma said in Zambia both the government and international partners alike had agreed that the human resource crisis was a major threat to the country’s healthcare system and as of June last year, the Ministry of Health was operating at 56 per cent capacity of the approved establishment.
He said with support from cooperating partners and its own resources, the Zambian Government had been taking serious steps to deal with the shortage of health workers.
“The sector, in 2012, recruited a total of 2,110 trained professionals throughout the country with the overall objective of ensuring adequate and equitable distribution of appropriately skilled and motivated health workers to provide quality health care.
He explained that additionally, a total of 307 trained community health assistants (CHAs) successfully completed a one year- training programme that were posted to all the provinces.
Mr. Kakoma stated that in order to further bridge the skills gap with regard to the shortage of human resources for health, the Ministry of Health later reopened Chitambo School of Nursing.
He pointed out that the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Childhood worked with the Ministry of Health in opening the Copperbelt School of Medicine which is expected that this would increase the production of health professionals.
He further urged ACP countries to reach the 15% Health Sector budget allocation (Abuja Declaration), increase investment in worker recruitment and improve incentives for the effective retention of health workers.
Earlier, Mr. Kakoma told the ACP-EU JPA that the impression suggesting that Zambia had not shown intention in signing the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) was not correct.
The Parliamentarian was referring to a report for the Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade which indicated Zambia as having not shown any intention to sign the EPAs.
Mr. Kakoma said Zambia, being chair for East and Southern African (ESA) countries on EPA negotiations had categorically stated that it would only sign after conclusion of consultations and when all members signed.
He further expressed surprise that EU had come up with the deadline for ACP countries to sign the EPAs and yet some EU countries had not signed and no deadline had been set for them.
Mr. Kakoma said he understood that the ACP-EU were equal partners and thus be treated as such –stressing that ACP countries should not be forced to sign EPAs without concluding their consultations.
A deadline of October 1st 2014 has since been set by the EU for negotiating ACP countries that signed interim EPAs to ratify and implement the deal or lose their preferential access to the EU market.
And Mr. Kakoma wondered why the EU had continued to push ACP countries to allow homosexuality in their respective countries.
He said Zambia would not tolerate sexual orientation because it was of no benefit to people’s lives.
Mr. Kakoma’s comment came in the wake of the European Parliament President Mr. Martin Schulz’s speech at the close of the JPA meeting in which he urged ACP member states to respect the rights of gays and lesbians because they were part of human rights.
But Mr. Kakoma argued that even in his constituency, people were in need of rights to education, health among other progressive rights and not gayism and lesbianism rights.