Despite the introduction in 2006 of free health services for rural areas, Zambia has some of the worst health indicators in southern Africa. Rates of malaria, HIV/AIDS, maternal and infant mortality are extremely high. Access to medicines is hampered by an extreme shortage of health workers, with only one doctor per 14,000 people. There are concerns that the arrival of 'free' rural health clinics has lead to a major over-subscription of services.
According to a study commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia (PSZ) in May 2009, only 8% of all drugs in the country are manufactured locally, with the remainder imported. Stockouts are extremely common - drug supplies that are supposed to last in clinics for a month often run out after a week. Nevertheless, unlike some of its peer countries, the Zambian government does not exacerbate the situation by applying tariffs to medicines, vaccines or active ingredients.