The Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) Executive says ‘We wish to put it on record that we do not agree with this increase in the clinical placement fees.
‘In fact, this goes against most of the pronouncements that have been made by the Minister of Health, Dr Chitalu Chilufya. This memo goes against some of the tenets of the 7th National Development Plan and the National Health Strategic Plan 2017-2021.
‘The implications of this memo are a reversal of the gains that the country has scored in opening up the space for Private sector participation in the national agenda of human capital development especially in the health sector. We wish to remind the Ministry that the private sector has not only brought in the much needed revenue, it has also brought in innovative ways and strong collaboration in the training of medical doctors and other cadres. The Government created a Public private partnership unit to support the private sector to enter into public space and offer the much needed support and engagement in bettering the lives of the Zambian people. It is our considered view that these fees are aimed at weakening the Private Sector involvement in the affairs of medical education and health service provision which will be catastrophic in the long run if left unchecked.
The current economic situation does not allow in the remotest of terms to effect such astronomical increases in the fees. As professionals who interact with most of these students on a daily basis, it is clear to see that most of them come from poor families, like most of us did “who are privileged today” at the time we were in medical school. It is clear that their families are struggling to make ends meet and are sacrificing a great deal for the education of their children, whose education should be treasured as these are our future national heritage. These are sons and daughters of fellow doctors, nurses, teachers and other civil servants, as well as unemployed Zambians and those struggling in business who have not seen adjustments in their incomes, and yet strive to offer meaningful education to their children.
We should also remember that in our current developmental agenda, we cannot afford to neglect education and only think of it as a preserve of the rich.
We are duty bound to promote harmony and inclusive engagement.
Lastly as an Association we call upon other relevant Government agencies like the Business Regulatory Authority to assist in the formulation of policy on matters that affect the economic situation of the intended consumers of such policy.
We are calling upon the Ministry of Health to withdrawal the said memo and call for a meaningful stakeholder engagement as we seek the way forward.
Issued by 28th February 2019