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

A new World Health Organization report “A universal truth: No health without a workforce” recently revealed that the world is currently short of 7.2 million global health workers. By 2035, the number could nearly double to 12.9 million.

This could have a devastating effect on countries in development where medical education and training are not readily available. For example, the report cites that in the 47 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, only 168 medical schools exist. 11 of those countries have no medical schools and 24 countries have no more than one medical school.

The recent shortage in the global health workforce is attributed to an aging, retiring generation of health workers with the younger generation disinterested in the field, dropping out of the study or not receiving proper training.

The WHO provided strategies to ameliorate the shortage from growing:

1. Increased political and technical leadership in countries to support long-term human resource development efforts.

2. Collection of reliable data and strengthening human resource for health databases.

3. Maximizing the role of mid-level and community health workers to make frontline health services more accessible and acceptable.

4. Retention of health workers in countries where the deficits are most acute and improving the balance of the distribution of health workers geographically.

5. Providing mechanisms for the voice, rights and responsibilities of health workers in the development and implementation of policies and strategies towards universal health coverage.

The demand for global health workers eclipses the current numbers and interest that exists now. Doctors are not the only personnel needed; there is a dire need for health technicians and nurses. A career in global health is the perfect combination of the health sciences, the passion for humanitarianism, a concern for social inequality and a genuine interest and respect for hundreds of cultures around the world. United States universities would do well to market and promote the global health major and programs alongside pre-medical and other pre-health tracks.

Malika Gumpangkum

Sources: WHO, BMJ
Photo: Kateholt

Curbing Maternal Death In EthiopiaWhile Ethiopia’s health system has improved, women are still dying from common birthing complications that can occur before, during and after childbirth. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that approximately 25,000 maternal deaths occur annually.

Luwei Pearson, Chief of the Health Section at the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) in Ethiopia said, “There must be efforts to ensure that health facilities are not just available but that they are also functional by, for instance, fitting them with electricity and piped water.”

As of 2011, Ethiopia recorded 676 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. In 2005, there were only 673 maternal deaths recorded. Ethiopia aims to decrease its current maternal death rate to 267 as of 2015.

The five major causes of maternal mortality in Ethiopia are ruptured uterus, abortion complications, postpartum hemorrhage, puerperal sepsis, and preeclampsia/eclampsia.

The Ethiopian government has created steps to lower the rates of maternal death. These initiatives include the use of a scorecard to determine the effectiveness of the health system as well as the creation of a health extension program that has trained about 30,000 extension, health workers.

Currently, only 1% of expectant mothers deliver with the supervision of extension health workers. The Ministry of Health reports that these workers have individually helped 2,500 people. The number helped will increase as more extension health workers are trained.

Rural areas require particular attention as around 83% of Ethiopia’s 87.1 million residents reside in rural areas. There is a drastic difference between the percentages of babies delivered with the help of skilled personnel in urban versus rural areas with 45% in urban areas and only 3% in rural areas.

Health facilities must also be built in order to ensure hygienic birthing conditions in rural areas. The University of Addis Ababa determined in 2009 that in the rural Tigray Region, 80% of maternal deaths occur in the home and 50% were the result of failed transportation to a health facility.

“We are optimistic that [the] goal [of reducing child and maternal mortality] is achievable… because we have seen Ethiopia achieve a more than 40 percent reduction in child mortality [among children] under five in the last five years. We have seen sub-Saharan Africa achieve a 39 percent reduction,” said Rajiv Shah, administrator at the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

– Kasey Beduhn

Source: IRIN
Photo: World News Network