By ANDREW MUKOMA
MEDICINES Research and Access Platform (MedRAP) a Non-governmental organization has raised concerns with the inadequate funding by government towards family planning commodities in the country.
Recently, MedRAP held a webinar engagement with stakeholders from government, civil society, and journalists to share experiences on the effects on family planning and reproductive health services amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the engagement, it was discovered that the government’s financing of family planning commodities has been inadequate. According to findings, financing and procurement has largely been dependant of donor support.
MedRAP Chief Executive Officer, Liyoka Liyoka, said in Livingstone that the country like many other in the Southern Africa, depended on donor for financing and procumbent of family planning commodities. Mr Liyoka said this organisation has recommended for advocacy by the media and other stakeholders for increased government financing of family planning commodities in the country.
He recommended for increased of family planning commodities through National Health Insurance Authority (NHIMA) accredited facilities and also access to funding through international funding mechanism such as the global financing facility. He also called for the strengthening of the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (ZMMSA) procument unit and increased government budget allocation.
Mr Liyoka said that the main objective of MedRAP is to strengthen health systems by promoting access to essential medicine through evidence pertaining to essential medicines in Zambia. MedRAP assistant programmes coordinator Gwendoline Zimba observed that the burden on health systems by the outbreak of COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted the reproductive gealth of people especially living in low- and middle income communities.
Ms Zimba said this has resulted in less concentration of family planning services leading to limited access to essential Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services. Further, she said the huge shift of health resources to COVID-19 response has negatively affected provision of SRH services and health workers contracting COVID-19 and limited PPE leading to quarantine.
She noted that the restriction implemented to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus has seen a reduction in client visit to clinics, commodity logistic challenges and safety concerns amongst providers. These have raised concerns over the implications of these unintended consequences on women’s reproductive health, service availability and uptake including addressing risks of unintended pregnancies and sexual violence.