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Kazungula Bridge construction to increase health demand

From BENEDICT TEMBO in Livingstone
A HEALTH information expert in Kazungula has warned that the district’s medical system will collapse when the construction of the Kazungula Bridge starts next month.
About 2,000 workers are expected to be engaged on the Kazungula Bridge project during the construction phase.
District health management and information specialist Samuel Mutasha said “we expect increased health demand when construction of the bridge starts.”
During a presentation on HIV key performance indicators for Kazungula district at a regional exchange meeting in Livingstone on Thursday, Mr Mutasha said apart from the district being serviced by a small clinic, it experiences regular stock-outs of reagents and test kits.
The regional meeting, which was reviewing the Kazungula environmental impact assessment report and development of a joint action plan, was attended by participants from Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Mr Mutasha bemoaned the lack of an epidemic preparedness plan.
Other challenges in Kazungula, one of the biggest districts in Zambia by size, include the lack of a district hospital to handle complicated cases.
Government is building a first level hospital in the district.
Apart from inadequate staffing, Mr Mutasha also said the district’s strategic plan has not been done.
He said there are frequent stock-outs of HIV test kits and a
low retention rates in Anti-retroviral therapy programme.
“There is no monitoring and evaluation framework for the Ministry of Health,” he said, adding that the geographical location of the district makes it hard for stakeholders to attend meetings.
Kazungula, a rural district in the Southern Province with a population of 113,666, has an HIV prevalence of 11 percent.
Kazungula District Council physical planner Kelyson Mang’ola said the inclusion of HIV and AIDS mitigation funds in the environmental strategic impact assessments of capital projects  present an opportunity for sources of financial resources at district level.
Mr Mang’ola said mainstreaming of HIV response in work place policies can complement the District AIDS Task Force’s efforts.
Kazungula bridge project manager Moses Nyawali said there is a lot that has been done to handle the spread of HIV during the construction stage.

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