PRETORIA – Thursday, 31st July, 2014 – GOVERNMENT says it will ensure that all referral hospitals in Zambia are modernised so that the country is in a position to handle various medical complications without having to refer them abroad.
Health Minister, Dr. Joseph Kasonde has pointed out that Government has devised a three-pronged approach under the modernisation of health facilities plan which will see the improvement of medical infrastructure, installation of advanced medical equipment and the training of medical personnel to handle specialist cases.
Dr. Kasonde said Government was moving fast and has so far made good progress in acquiring some pieces of specialised equipment and embarked on extensive infrastructure development at a number of hospitals including Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital. He said Government has also started training Zambian specialists to handle heart, kidney, diabetes and other complicated cases.
One Zambian has just finished training as a cardiologist while others specialising in procedures such as Kidney transplant were yet to graduate.
He said a lot of progress has been made in equipping referral hospitals with CT Scans having been acquired for Lusaka and Kitwe. A CT Scan is an advanced form of x-ray which is used to diagnose medical complications. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine and a Cathlab have been fitted in Lusaka. Both facilities are also used in medical diagnosis.
“So in that line, I think we are now moving very fast. The only challenge is the need for high-level specialists and this has continued being a problem because it takes a very long time to train them. Otherwise, we are on course and we will eventually attain standards where we will be able to treat complicated cases using our own staff and in our own facilities in Zambia,” Dr. Kasonde said.
The Minister noted that he understood the basis of concerns from some sections of society in Zambia over the costs involved in sending patients abroad but called for sober reflection and consideration of what led to authorities making such decisions.
“I agree with those raising concern because it is an expensive venture to send patients outside the country. But let me say that people should also understand that we have started off in the direction of bringing that to an end. They should also realise that there are three elements to this with the first being infrastructure development, secondly acquisition of equipment and the third being the need for specialists. The first two are easier and quicker to implement but they will be useless without the right human capital in place,” he said.
He said the country has also been relying on doctors from Apollo, a group of hospitals from India, who have been sending their specialists into Zambia. This has contributed to reducing on the number of cases requiring evacuation abroad.
Dr. Kasonde was in South Africa for a meeting with Medical Services Organisation (MSO) who have been facilitating the evacuation of Zambians to South Africa over the last 10 years.
The Minister later took time off to visit President Sata’s son, Kazimu, and other Zambian patients admitted to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.
HIGH COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA IN SOUTH AFRICA
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