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Healthcare in Zambia: Four Major Improvement Methods

Free medical textbooks, increased medical training and resources, rural community-based intervention programs and a new medical facility are helping to improve healthcare in Zambia.

Sachibond: A Small Clinic Becomes First-Level Hospital

In a remote area of northwestern Zambia, Sachibondu started as a small clinic in an area where many people lack access to basic physician care, some walking for days to reach this facility. It is now turning into a new hospital facility, undergoing major construction and upgrades which “will meet government requirements for a first-level hospital, which will attract more funding and staff resources from the Ministry of Health.” The new hospital will potentially reach tens of thousands of patients.

Upgrades at Sachibondu include x-ray and scanning technology, full operating capabilities, extensive inpatient and maternity wards and isolation areas for infectious disease control and treatment. The construction includes innovative design for ensuring fresh-air ventilation capacity and maximizing a layout for providing worker well-being and optimal clinical accessibility function. Also, designers strategically placed plants and other shades for providing privacy and to reduce overheating.

One of Sachibondu’s new architecture goals was to optimize worker and patient well-being because, as Jackson Amone from the Uganda Ministry of Health said, “Health is the state of physical and mental well-being, not just the absence of infection and disease.”

Sachibondu is run by the Zambian Government Ministry of Health, the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) and the Sachibondu Health Committee; several volunteers also participated in the construction.

Enhancing Rural and Remote Medical Intervention Training

With 60 percent of Zambia’s 16 million people living in rural or remote areas, training villagers with basic medical emergency intervention methods has the potential to help save many lives.

Lack of skilled healthcare workers and quality facilities in rural and remote areas inspired community-based intervention training services, such as the formation of Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs).

SMAGs are groups implemented in rural and remote communities which are comprised of a variety of community health volunteers. These volunteers include birth attendants, health committees and community members specially trained to identify danger signs and encourage women to attend healthcare services. Such groups are supported and implemented by Health for the Poorest Population (HPP), the Ministry of Community Development, Maternal and Child Health in Zambia and UNICEF.

Increasing Healthcare Workforce Training and Resources for Preventing Diseases and Early Deaths

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works with the Zambian Ministry of Health to strengthen the healthcare in Zambia. One such method is through the USAID Systems for Better Health, which is a training program that has produced over 1,600 new healthcare workers so far. Support from USAID for improving Zambian healthcare systems includes mentoring, supplying financial services and providing supply-chain management.

The U.S. government and USAID also support several programs combatting diseases in Zambia, such as is its efforts to control and prevent HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

The United States President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) helped Zambians reduce their death rate from malaria by over 30 percent by providing access to test-kits, life-saving medicines, insecticide-treated bed nets and residual spraying availability. USAID has also implemented updated technology and training for local healthcare workers to detect and treat a high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis cases in Zambia.

Also through USAID’s efforts supporting improvements of healthcare in Zambia, infant mortality rate dropped by 36 percent between 2007 and 2014. Safe high-quality birthing services are increasing throughout Zambia through various programs including Saving Mothers and Giving Life. USAID assists by providing equipment, improving supply chains, strengthening links, training caregivers and educating community members.

Free Higher Education Books

With a 63 percent adult literacy rate and 51 percent of Zambians completing at least some secondary schooling, free higher education books (including medical textbooks) are helping to improve healthcare in Zambia by providing greater access to better-quality education.

Book Aid International is a non-profit organization based in London, England that distributes free up-to-date textbooks to universities, training institutions, libraries, clinics and hospitals in areas where people can’t afford books, such as Zambia. Book Aid International is often the sole supporter of many African libraries.

Improving Healthcare in Zambia, and Worldwide

One of the organization’s motivations to supply free higher education books is to improve healthcare worldwide. Book Aid International declares: “Access to accurate, reliable information is absolutely crucial in order to deliver medical care and health education, yet around the world, people cannot afford the books they need.”

In 2017, Book Aid International donated over 65,000 books to Zambians. With 42 percent of Zambians living on less than $2 per day, free books are a welcome and needed route for developing improved healthcare in Zambia. With assistance from international collaborations, Zambia’s healthcare has vastly improved throughout the country, and the nation’s future looks brighter than ever.

– Emme Leigh
Photo: Flickr