Many poor Zambians are having difficulty gaining access to drugs such as ARVs that treat AIDS and other illnesses such as Tuberculosis and Malaria due to the corruption in their government. Over one million of Zambia’s 10 million population carries the virus that causes AIDS. However, thanks to the anti-corruption efforts of organizations such as Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) and Medicines Alliance (MeTA). initiatives have been started to help increase access to essential medicines by low-income people of Zambia. TIZ and MeTA want to improve transparency and accountability in the selection, procurement, sale and distribution of medicine in Zambia.
Goodwell Lungu, executive director of TIZ said, “We have had constructive dialogue and meetings with the government, the private sector, civil society and the media on anti-corruption matters. Together we need to be more vigilant and intolerant to issues of corruption”
Ironically, the Ministry of Health, which agreed to abide by the principles laid out by MeTA such as the belief that “good health is crucial to human dignity and social economic development,” are one of the major violators and main sources of the corruption. They are known as the “Ministry of Wealth” instead of the Ministry of Health. In December of last year the Global fund suspended aid to Zambia following a multi-million dollar scandal, which implicated the Ministry.
The Zambia Medical Association says there needs to be an AIDS and TB specific budget and established National Fund for ARVs. The Global Fund also announced it has strengthened its ability to prevent and detect fraud and misuse of drugs by its aid recipient countries including Zambia. The Ministry of Health reported the government has ordered essential drugs worth USD 6 million, which are finally starting to arrive in the country. With close monitoring the people of Zambia will get the health benefits they so desperately need.
Title: “Medicine Alliance Fighting Corruption in Zambia.”
Author: Aston Mwila Kuseka
Source: Inter Press Service, 3/7/11
Student Researcher: Camille Avis, Sonoma State University
Faculty Advisor: Deborah Kindy, Sonoma State University