The current health and nutrition situation of the country is not impressive and this has been due to several factors. The government has been putting some resources on health but most Zambians do not have equal access to health services especially in the rural areas.
The wealth of a nation lies in their capabilities and assets. Health, which is closely interrelated with nutrition, is one of the most important. The well-being of both individuals and households largely depend on their participation in gainful economic activities. Health and nutrition are both fundamental human rights. They are also indispensable to the realization of other human rights1.
Poverty may not be the only factor affecting the levels of health and nutrition status. The availability of socially provided basic needs is also a reflection of the overall income/poverty of a country (as opposed to individuals or households). In general, poverty could still be regarded as the dominant factor affecting the health and nutrition status of a nation2.
Health and nutrition are relevant to economic growth and poverty reduction. With 80 percent of the Zambian population living below the poverty datum line, the challenges of poor health and nutrition to health care providers and policy makers cannot be overemphasized. The absence of good health and nutrition threaten the country's efforts to build capacity among its people. Poor health and nutrition reverses and impedes the country's capacity by shortening human productivity and life expectancy. The complex relationship between health and nutrition and poverty are increasingly being recognized3.
Therefore, the civil society would like to recommend some ways of improving equal access to health services. Civil society also expects that through this paper, access to and availability of health and nutrition services will be provided to all citizens equitably. It is envisioned that the 5th National Development Plan will encourage community involvement in decisions affecting people's health in particular women, children, the poor, the elderly and the disabled.
UN System (2004) Nutrition for Improved Development Outcomes 5th Report
UN system (1997) Nutrition and Poverty
GRZ (2002) Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper: 2002-2004