ZAMBIA UK Health Workforce Alliance (ZUKHWA), Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) and the Zambia Government through the ministry of Health have entered into an agreement to train Biomedical engineers locally to help in repairing faulty medical machinery especially those used for operations in theatres in hospitals.
The three organizations have identified Northern Technical College (Nortec) in Ndola, Copperbelt province where the training will take place and the first training will commence in September 2013 and a year later machinery to work on will be made available.
The decision to train medical engineers in Zambia comes after a request from government made then permanent secretary in the ministry of health, Dr Simon Miti who had meetings with UK based health organization on how best to improve the health sector.
The team pushing for the training programme to start has already developed a curriculum together with Nortec management in order to suit the institution’s teaching menu and staff.
Zambia UK Workforce Alliance and Tropical Health Education Trust have promised to bring British volunteers to come and help teach Zambians who in turn will be teaching others in the years to come.
The organizations observed that there is a lot of idle medical machinery in hospitals because there are no qualified engineers to repair. It is noted that most hospitals have mainly electrical engineers unopposed to biomedical engineers.
On Friday (November 2, 2012), Tropical Health Education Trust and Zambia UK Health Workforce Alliance held a stakeholders meeting at Lusaka’s Hotel Intercontinental to discuss challenges in the health sector including Zambia.
The two organizations are impressed with the way the Zambian government in supporting the training programme saying that it is showing a positive signs.
Despite having identified Nortec as a suitable institution to teach biomedical engineers, the organizations will not stop searching for other institutions that can offer similar training so that many people can be encouraged to train and take good care of the machines.
The other observation made on why many hospitals have idle machines it is because most of them are donated and donors do not enquire on the specifications needs of a particular hospital and if they develop a fault no one can repair them because they do not come with menus to guide medical personnel on what should be done.
The meeting also looked at anaesthesia research and leadership programmes, partnership and volunteerism programmes, pathology and psychiatry.
Meanwhile, Minister of community development, mother and child health, Dr Joseph Katema says there is need for stakeholders in the health sector to identify reasons and gaps in order to help reduce maternal mortality by the year 2015.
He was speaking during maternal and newborn health conference for’s mothers and babies at Hotel Intercontinental organized by Zambia-UK Health Workforce Alliance (ZUKHWA).
Dr Katema said Zambia has the challenge of doubling efforts in order to attain the MDG 5 and that there is less progress on this goal. He said minimal improvements have been seen: the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births has reduced from 729 in 2001 to 591 in 2007.
He said there is enormous difference between the number of women from the high income groups who have access to a skilled birth attendant compared to those from the low income groups. He said globally it is estimated that 210 in 100,000 women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth but Zambia is well above average at 591 per 100,000 live birth.
Dr Katema said, “Zambia faces challenges of shortage of skilled workers, poor health infrastructure, shortage of material resources; difficulties of access to the healthcare due to long distances and poor or non existence of passable roads. Aggravating these are of a high HIV prevalence poor water sanitation.”
Dr Katema encouraged stakeholders in the health sector to keep in mind that since countries of the world signed up to the millennium development goals, they have been committed to making improvements and safeguarding the lives of women and children and that the commitment should be kept in mind.
He said his ministry has the responsibility to ensure that it improves the lives of women and children especially targeting those in poor communities.
“I implore you that together we should do everything in our power to identify gaps and develop strategies so that we improve safety and car of mothers and children in Zambia. This is a collective effort and demands the highest level of professional skills and commitment,” he said.