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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Health Watch (Ambulances), 2nd Edition

The ambulances recently bought by Government have started arriving in the country. Child Health D Minister Jean Kapata  recently informed parliament that the 208 ambulances would be distributed to districts to help address health care delivery hurdles especially in rural areas. She says this figure "is far beyond the number of districts we have and they will be sufficient".

It is encouraging to know that someone knows how many districts we have! On a more serious note, this indeed is a very welcome development. It is shocking that there is no adequate medical response system in the country. The issue is most acute for road accidents where victims bleed because no medical personnel arrive on the accident scene. The question of course is whether one or two ambulances for a town like Kitwe is enough.

And on top of that there are broader questions of whether our hospitals have adequate Accident and Emergency (A and E) services to deal with the demand. And GRZ should not forget those on remote islands e.g. Kilwa, Chisenga, Chilubi. They need adequate access to island based response systems. Ambulances cannot do there. Something else is needed!

Attention also needs to turn to fire services. A recent Parliamentary Committee report concludes that Zambia's current fire fighting capacity is very poor. Most local fire authorities in Zambia do not have fire tenders that match the existing risk categories. The country continues to rely on donated old fire fighting vehicles, most of which are incompatible with the terrain in most of the communities in Zambia. God forbid we have a serious fire tragedy in Zambia - how would we cope?

Chola Mukanga | Economist
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

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