LUSAKA, January 17, 2022—Today, the World Bank and the Government of Zambia signed a financing agreement of $155 million for the Zambia Emergency Health Service Delivery Project, a two-year project which will enable continued delivery of public health care services in Zambia.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to take a toll on Zambia’s social services, this project will support the government to maintain critical social sector spending and ensure the sustained distribution of frontline health services that otherwise face a serious prospect of being disrupted.
“Unless immediately addressed, current conditions could lead to a deterioration in frontline health services. This support will ensure an uninterrupted delivery of health services that will mitigate potentially devastating impacts on health and human development that could threaten livelihoods, schooling, food security, nutrition, and long-term human capital outcomes,” said Sahr Kpundeh, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has considerably worsened Zambia’s macroeconomic imbalances and has also exacerbated inequalities in access to quality health care which threatens to reverse progress made over the past two decades.
A 2018 Public Expenditure Review revealed that the human resource gap is greatest in rural areas, which have about one core health worker per 1,000 people as compared to two core health workers per 1,000 people in urban areas. Furthermore, there is an imbalance in the skills mix, particularly for doctors, which are in short supply in rural areas. Thus, the project will assist the Ministry of Health to develop a long-term human resource management strategy given that skilled human resources in service delivery are critical to achieving key health sector outcomes.
The project, which will be implemented collaboratively by the Ministry of Finance and National Planning and the Ministry of Health, is envisaged as a “bridge” to enable the Government of Zambia to cross over the current crisis and embark on the road to long term recovery. It is essential that health staff are paid on time and that health facilities have the necessary supplies and medicines.