ZIO MWALE, Chilanga
A FEW years ago, Jonathan Himoonga, a resident of Nakachenje wished for health facility that could meet the dynamic health needs of the people in his community.
Nakachenje is located in Chilanga district, about 25 kilometres west of Lusaka. The community has had no proper health facility for a longer time.
Mr Himoonga, 50, could not hold back his joy after seeing minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya and newly elected member of Parliament (MP) for Chilanga Maria Langa, launching the construction of a mini-hospital just near his house.
The mini-hospital being built by NMS Infrastructure will have a maternal annex, consultation rooms, mini theatre, five staff houses, maternity ward, children’s ward as well as male and female wards.
“I was born here. I now have a family. I have never seen such a development. At some point, I actually thought Government had forgotten about us because we have suffered for a long time,” Mr Himoonga said.
He narrates that he was concerned to see his wife, six children, and members of the surrounding community struggling to get health services from the existing health post.
Two of his daughters resorted to giving birth at home because getting to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka in the night could be a dangerous journey.
“I am very happy to hear that the new clinic being constructed will have a maternity ward. It was a big challenge for our women here, most of them were giving birth in homes, which is not safe,” Mr Himoonga shared.
He said the public health post in Chilanga was too small to carter for the entire community as it has inadequate staff and can only provide a few basic health services to the people.
With the increasing population in the district, the number of patients seeking health services at the health post has equally been growing, resulting into overcrowding at the health facility.
It is for this reason that Mr Himoonga applauded Government’s decision to construct a modern mini-hospital in the district.
Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the mini-hospital, Dr Chilufya said the project signifies Government’s resolve to improve healthcare service delivery in Zambia.
He said that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government will not relent in its aspiration for universal health coverage.
“We shall plant health infrastructure in strategic places to ensure that people access health services within five kilometre radius. We are going to build these health posts in rural areas,” he said.
He said Nakechenje is part of the two other facilities that are being constructed in Chilanga under the US$300 million project that will result into the construction of 108 mini-hospitals and three district hospitals across the country.
“The first mini-hospital will be constructed in Nakachenja then in Mondegwa and Tubalange. We are certainly sure that the hospitals will improve health systems in the constituency,” Dr Chilufya said.
He shared that the construction of 108 mini-hospitals is in the National Health Strategic Plan that seeks to expand health services to all the people of the country and building infrastructure that will provide services along the continuum of care.
“People of Chilanga you have been denied health services for a long time and now it is time for us to fulfill the promises we made to you; that is to deliver quality health services,” Dr Chitalu said
He explained that the facility will have basic equipment and sufficient trained staff so that people are not referred to UTH.
“Pregnant women who need maternal services will just have to come here and not go very far away; under five children will now receive immunisation from here; our citizens our fathers and mothers will all access services from here,” he said.
He stated that President Edgar Lungu’s administration wants all Zambians to have good health services regardless of tribe, the reason why they are building healthcare infrastructure throughout the country.
“This is the development we were talking about as PF Government. A few months from now, the health post will be completed and women will stop travelling to UTH just to seek maternal care,” the Health minister said.
Ms Langa, the Chilanga parliamentarian, observed that the people of Chilanga have had no clinic for a long time, therefore it was time for the PF Government to fulfill its campaign premise of taking healthcare services close to homes.
Ms Langa expressed gratitude to the government for the timely gesture of allocating three mini-hospitals to Chilanga.
She said the mini-hospitals will go a long way in addressing the health needs of Chilanga residents.
“During my campaign period, residents here complained about lacking a proper health facility, I am excited because the first clinics of the project will be constructed in my constituency,” she said.
She said the project was just the beginning of the fuilfiment of all the promises that the PF made to Chilanga residents in the just-ended by-election that sent her to Parliament as a representative of the people.
Ms Langa promised the people that the clinic will be completed in a few months’ time.
NMS Infrastructure director Peter Marks said the mini-hospital will be located at the centre of the community, thus providing a much needed service to a greater number of people.
“I could tell from the time we started assessments here that residents really need a health facility. We shall complete the facility in about 12 months times, then we can move to the next one,” Mr Marks said.
ZIO MWALE, Chilanga