Wed, 14 Feb 2018 10:18:11 +0000
By CHARLES MUSONDA
IT is shocking and disappointing that the Government wants Zambian citizens to pay another financial contribution for them to receive medical services from public health centres, in addition to taxes they already pay, the labour movement has charged.
At a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday, the Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) and the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) denounced the manner in which Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya proceeded to submit the National Health Insurance Bill number 22 of 2017 to Parliament, without meaningful consultations with key stakeholders.
The Bill’s intention is to create an institution to be called the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) that will be given a legal mandate to collect money from all workers and employers through the payroll and from every Zambian aged 18 years and above, including pensioners except those above 70 years.
The money to be collected is said to be used by the Government to provide medical services to Zambians in accessing medical services from would-be government accredited health centres.
This means that no Zambian will be able to receive any medical service in any government health centre without a financial subscription to the NHIA.
But ZFE president Wesley Chishimba said both employers and workers paid huge sums of money in form of taxes to the State not only through the Pay As You earn for workers and company tax for employers.
“The Zambia Federation of Employers wish to categorically state that the Bill is retrogressive and that we strongly oppose it. We urge the Minister of Health to withdraw it from Parliament as it does not mean well for the Zambian workers, our members, the companies and the public.
“We find it unethical and unfair for the government, through the Ministry of Health to be interested in creating an institution with a huge structure through which it wants to tax the Zambian people and the corporate entities with no corresponding effective and efficient service delivery,” Mr. Chishimba said.
And ZCTU deputy secretary general Elaston Njovu said his organisation did not consider it appropriate to submit on a Bill that was not subjected to wider stakeholder consultations before being presented to Parliament.
Mr. Njovu said ZCTU was sceptical about the Bill because the Ministry of Health did not have specialised institutions to handle insurance aspect of health.“In this regard the Ministry of Health’s mandate should be limited to health service delivery by ensuring that there are adequate health facilities and adequate qualified medical personnel in hospitals. The insurance schemes should be run by pension schemes to avoid duplication of responsibility.
“We urge all our affiliated unions and all the workers in this country to take an interest in this matter, and be reminded that we are not in agreement with the National Health Insurance Bill currently in Parliament going for second reading,” Mr. Njovu said.