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Zambia’s First Lady praises progress as the BID Initiative celebrates improvements in data quality and use

By Mali Kambandu, Communications Officer, BID Initiative Zambia

Jul 27, 2017

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Photo: PATH/Mali Kambandu. Zambia’s First Lady Mrs. Esther Lungu addresses participants at last Friday’s showcase event.

On Friday, July 21, staff from the Zambia Ministry of Health (MOH) and the BID Initiative waited eagerly in a grand ballroom. Staff dressed in colour chitenge fabric outfits or smart suits waited for the arrival of Zambia’s First Lady, Mrs. Esther Lungu and Dr. Chilufya Chitalu, the Minister of Health. Mrs. Lungu is an advocate for maternal and child health, and her strong stance on immunization supports BID Initiative’s objectives. “No child in the African region should die because we have denied them lifesaving vaccines,” Mrs. Lungu believes. So when she accepted an invitation to attend our showcase event, we knew she would be doing so to learn about and support the work achieved so far.

Last week, we showcased interventions to improve data use in immunization at an event in Lusaka. BID and the MOH demonstrated the electronic immunization registry and other data use interventions, along with our newly-released video to highlight Zambia’s commitment to closing the immunization gap with timely, high-quality data.

Speaking at the occasion, Mrs. Lungu said, “Every effort to ensure the healthy growth of children should be taken in all development programmes. The transformational agenda of the MOH seeks to put primary health care at the centre of its operations. The MOH seeks to ensure that interventions that advance promotion of health and prevention of diseases are brought to every community as close as possible. BID Initiative is a good example of this agenda and I will continue to support it.”

Zambia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya also praised BID’s progress and advocated for the scale up of data use and data quality interventions: “What we need to emphasise is how we go beyond Southern Province and reach the whole country, because we want to reach all of Zambia.”

This support is valuable as the BID Initiative, MOH, other government departments and partners look at advancing the data use work beyond Southern Province, the test province, to the remaining nine provinces in Zambia.

“Immunization is not sufficient if we don’t know who should receive vaccines, where these children are, and what vaccines they should be getting,” said Mrs. Lungu. “This information matters as much as the vaccines. Data is a critical tool in the health service and all measures to improve its integrity at the health facility level should be put in place.”

MOH representatives spoke of sustaining BID during the showcase event, acknowledging that it is on the minds of the Ministry.

The showcase event was a time to reflect on the work undertaken so far, to celebrate the success of quality data use interventions that have already been well-received in three districts, and to consider our course beyond Southern Province. By working closely with the MOH, as we have been since 2014, this course will become clearer, strengthened by the partnership with the Zambian government.

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