“Stakeholders Welcome NHIMA move to MoH”

… Kabisa says this will strengthen Zambia’s Healthcare System and promote universal health coverage

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 (08-04-2024) – The decision to transfer the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIMA) back to the Ministry of Health has received widespread approval from key stakeholders in Zambia.

Humphrey Monde, President of the United Federation of Employers in Zambia (UFEZ), along with other prominent figures within the healthcare sector, has praised this move as a crucial step towards achieving universal health coverage.

Monde believes transferring NHIMA’s supervision back to the Ministry of Health is a positive step, trusting the ministry’s capability to achieve NHIMA’s objectives.

He also believes that extending coverage to various sectors requires central planning and supervision by medical experts.

He suggested that concerns about poor service delivery in public health facilities, especially in rural areas, will be resolved with ease.

“To ensure access for vulnerable citizens, he proposes integrating Social Cash Transfer (SCT) into the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), demonstrating a commitment to inclusivity in healthcare provision.

Monde commends the government’s decision to pay NHIMA contributions for Social Cash Transfer beneficiaries and expresses gratitude for attendees’ solidarity.

He emphasized the aim of the National Health Insurance Scheme for universal health coverage for all citizens and expresses confidence in the Ministry of Health’s ability to oversee it.

Muyaywa Kabisa, President of the Federation Free Trade Unions (FFTUZ), echoes Monde’s sentiments, emphasizing the Ministry of Health’s role as the appropriate institution to oversee NHIMA.

Kabisa notes that NHIMA’s funding comes from various sources, not just workers, and it serves all eligible citizens.

He suggests that efforts should focus on expanding NHIMA membership and advocating for improved healthcare services.

Kabisa stresses the importance of all Zambians providing input based on their experiences with NHIMA to ensure it meets expectations.

Dr. Geoffrey Sandala, Chairperson for Civil Society Health Partnership, acknowledged the government’s decision to return NHIMA to the Ministry of Health.

He highlights the managerial and administrative weaknesses faced by NHIMA under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, almost landing the institution in trouble.

Sandala emphasizes the importance of consolidating health information management systems and avoiding duplication of tasks for efficient operations.

He notes that enhancing access to diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, along with medications, is achieved through integrating NHIMA into the Ministry of Health.

Sandala also suggests addressing accreditation issues with health institutions to streamline client access to medical services.

He emphasizes trust in the Ministry of Health’s capability to manage challenges and successes associated with NHIMA’s return.

Musonda Kamfwa, Medical Profession Associations Representative, stated that the association fully supports the government’s decision to move NHIMA from its previous location to the Ministry of Health.

Kamfwa notes concerns about the effectiveness of NHIMA’s services, particularly in rural and underserved areas, due to the lower-than-expected number of accredited health facilities.

He believes that moving NHIMA to the Ministry of Health aligns with the decentralization policy, facilitating better coordination and addressing bureaucratic hindrances.

Kamfwa expects that consolidating NHIMA within the Ministry of Health will improve administrative processes, reduce bureaucratic barriers, and enhance efficiency in service delivery.

He also emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability in healthcare delivery and recommends that the government carefully considers the implications of the transfer and revisits relevant legislation, such as the National Health Services Act, to ensure clarity in service delivery and financing.

Kamfwa calls for better coordination and efficiency in service delivery, particularly in rural and underserved areas, expressing optimism for enhanced health service delivery and better outcomes for Zambians as NHIMA transitions to the Ministry of Health.

Kamfwa stresses the need for transparency, accountability, and careful consideration of the implications of the transfer to strengthen Zambia’s healthcare system for the benefit of all citizens.

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