FOR a long time now, Zambia has suffered a brain drain in the health sector just as some citizens have been trekking outside the country to seek specialised treatment.
Both the brain drain and citizens going outside the country to seek specialised treatment have been a huge cost to the country.
That is why countries such as China, India and South Africa, with modern medical technology, find it easy to retain medical personnel and attract hundreds of patients from all parts of the world for treatment.
Medical personnel enjoy to operate in an environment which has all the tools of the trade.
It gives medical personnel confidence to deal with the disease burden because both diagnosis and surgery are eased.
Lack of specialised hospitals has been costing Government about US$1 million annually to evacuate patients abroad for treatment.
Despite the colossal sum involved, Government is obliged to continue sending its citizens for treatment of certain conditions such as child heart surgery.
This can only be reversed if or when the country starts to treat certain medical conditions.
Therefore, the fact that the construction of Zambia’s first-ever specialised hospital has started is a major turn of events in the health sector.
This will not only help treat citizens but will boost health tourism.
A few years ago, Government used to spend colossal sums of money to send citizens to countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and India for treatment of cancer diseases.
This is now a thing of the past following the opening of the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) at the University Teaching Hospital.
The CDH has been a huge success story because it has, apart from raising awareness, helped in restoring the health of thousands of citizens.
The CDH has seen the regional growth in the flow of patients from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Similarly, the Lusaka Specialised Hospital (LSH), when completed in 2020, will not only cater for Zambia but for the entire SADC region and beyond.
The five-star facilities at LSH will improve access to quality health services and will reduce the number of people being taken for specialised treatment abroad.
We are particularly happy that the hospital will, among other services, offer cardiology, neurosurgery, orthopaedics, nephrology, spinal services, transplants and rehabilitation services.
It will therefore boost health tourism, which is a new concept of tourism Government has embarked on in an effort to maximise income generation.
All high-profile people who have been flocking to China, India and South Africa will also begin to make huge savings.
It will also help the country to not only make savings but earn the much-needed foreign exchange.
Like President Lungu said, patients from the SADC region and beyond, who will come seeking treatment, will be escorted by relatives or friends, who will in turn use Zambia’s facilities like hotels, food and transport, thereby bringing money into the country.
The health sector is certainly getting out of the intensive care unit.