GETHSEMANE MWIZABI, Ndola
THE Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) has several benefits in its portfolio. One of them is the Return to Good Health Programme.
The Return to Good Health Programme aims at restoring an injured or disabled worker to a condition that is as close as possible to their pre-accident state. The package comes with medical evacuations of affected workers. The programme is in line with the Workers Compensation Act which intends to absorb employers from liabilities associated with costs of compensation and treatment of workers disabled by occupational accidents and diseases through several cash and non-benefits such as health and rehabilitation services.
As for medical evacuations, they are undertaken upon recommendation from the medical board or practitioners. It is important to note that Workers’ Compensation does not select beneficiaries for medical evacuation but facilitates evacuations based on medical recommendations by experts. Yes, some procedures can be done locally but ultimately medical experts need to advise the Board on whether the patient requires evacuation or not.
Only recently, Best Chibuye 35, a Chingola-based pensioner because a beneficiary of the medical evacuation.
Mr Chibuye travelled to Mumbai, India, for specialist medical treat to Mumbai, India, accompanied by his wife Esther, at the Board’s expense.
Beneficiary Chibuye, who has three children, was working as a general worker) at China Geo SA Limited when he got involved in an industrial accident on July 24, 2017. He sustained a fractured pelvis, resulting in permanent colostomy and urethral injury.
Following the accident, he was treated at Nchanga North Hospital before being transferred to Ndola Teaching Hospital for specialist medical attention. Although specialist doctors at the hospital attended to him, his condition only got worse, prompting his employer to evacuate the WCFCB beneficiary to South Africa for advanced specialist medical attention.
Whilst in South Africa, a Dr. D. Ligthelm of Pretoria Urology Hospital did a surgical intervention called urethroplasty. The surgical intervention involved insertion of a trans-urethral catheter and closing of the suprapubic route that was created by specialists at Ndola Teaching Hospital. After being discharged from hospital, Mr Chibuye was scheduled to return to South Africa in October 2018 for medical review and removal of bladder stones that were detected during the initial surgical intervention. However, the employer had wound up operations on the Chingola-Solwezi Road by then, and as such, was unable to sponsor him for medical review in South Africa.
In October 2018, Mr Chibuye’s medical case was brought to the attention of the Rehabilitation Unit of WCFCB. An assessment was done but the recommendation to send him to South Africa was shelved to allow local specialist doctors at University Teaching Hospital (UTH) to attend to him.
This followed the donation of the first ever Lithoclast Master (a vital medical equipment used to remove kidney stones) to UTH. Since January 2019, our Rehabilitation Unit had made several consultations with the UTH Urology Department in an attempt to have the pensioner attended to by specialist doctors there. However, the patient’s medical report from UTH indicated that visiting urologists would only be available twice a year, meanwhile his condition was showing no signs of improving.
Considering the pain that the beneficiary had been experiencing while awaiting specialist treatment at UTH, the WCFCB decided to sponsor him for medical treatment abroad.
Mr Chibuye’s case shows that medical evacuations, when necessary are essential for the return to good health of injured workers.
Apart from foreign medical evacuation, the Board through its Rehabilitation Department also does conduct local medical evacuations.
Under the Return to Good Health Programme, the WCFCB has entered into partnerships with health institutions like Ndola Central Hospital, Beit Cure Hospital, UTH, Zambian Italian Orthopaedic Hospital, Arthur Davison Children’s Hospital and Holy Family Rehabilitation Heath Centre, among others. Services drawn from these health institutions are range from physiotherapy, provision of the assistive mobility devices and orthopedic services.
The author is communications officer at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0212621283