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Taxes and health in Zambia

Zambia should be one of the richest nations in Africa. It's the seventh largest producer of copper in the world and copper prices are at an all-time high.

Yet 64% of people live below the poverty line. Life expectancy is just 49 years old.

So where is the money going?

The Zambian government estimates that it loses around $1 billion every year because of tax dodging.

Saviour Mwambwa

Saviour Mwambwa.

Saviour Mwambwa, from the Centre for Trade, Policy and Development, says: 'In most cases they [mining companies] aggressively go out of their way to do whatever they can do within the law, and sometimes outside the law, to pay as little tax as possible.'

This lost tax revenue means that the Zambian government doesn’t have the money to pay for a whole range of vital services, in particular healthcare.

One doctor for 45,000 people

Elisheba Chali, a nurse at Kabundi East Hospital, says, 'There is a big problem in healthcare in Zambia.

'The government support we get now is not enough. Government will is there but the resources are very few.'

The clinic caters for 45,000 people. But with only one doctor and ten beds, there is a limit to how many patients can be treated.

Many have to join long waiting lists, or be referred to another, more distant, hospital.

Getting there requires time and money that many patients simply do not have.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If Zambia could collect the $1 billion it loses every year from tax dodging, the government could almost double the national health budget. This would save lives.

If you agree that companies should be held to account over tax dodging, join our tax justice campaign and help developing countries receive what is rightfully theirs.

Did you know?

The Zambian government allocates approximately £25 per person for healthcare per year, compared to over £2,000 in the UK.