Response to COVID-19
As of 26 June 2020, Zambia has 1497 cases confirmed, 1123 people have recovered, and there have been 18 deaths.
Since March, Zambia introduced a series of measures including closure of three international airports, closure of all schools, movement restrictions and closure of non-essential services such as restaurant, bar, gym and public gatherings to curb the transmission rate. However, international land borders remained open, including movement of commercial and border crossing, to avoid negative impact on trade and the economy. Restrictions have been eased since May.
The COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding at a time when, the country is struggling with recent drought and flood disasters which has resulted in increased food insecurity in more than 58 districts for the past two seasons. In addition, Zambia’s health system is ill-equipped to tackle the pandemic, and placing its limited human resources, essential health commodities and supplies to respond to COVID-19 can put at risk other vulnerable population groups, such as pregnant and lactating women (Zambia has the highest fertility rate in Africa).
Zambia has been a recipient of international aid to support its COVID-19 response. A treasury statement released by Ministry Spokesman Chileshe Kandeta in April 2020 stated that the United States, United Kingdom, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank had agreed to provide K2.7 billion to the Government of Zambia in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the statement failed to disclose a grant of over US$6 million it received from the Global Fund to tackle Covid-19.
Corruption in Zambia’s healthcare sector is prominent, raising concerns for potential mismanagement of COVID-19 resources. On 24 June, the Minister of Health was arrested over allegations of having stolen around US$2,5 million from his ministry; he was released on bond immediately after questioning, and is expected to appear before the Court of Lusaka on July 9, 2020.
- Tracking all public donations made to the Ministry of Health and the Disaster Management and Mitigation to ensure accountability and transparency are adhered to.
- Statement issued on Zambia’s COVID-19 response. The statement also provided recommendations to government.
- Online webinar-based training for journalists and CSOs on procurement corruption, data use, open contracting and COVID-19, with approximately 40+ journalists attending.