CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kabwe
TO enhance delivery of healthcare services and decentralise specialised medical care, Government has upgraded Kabwe General Hospital into a central hospital.
On average, the third-level facility, the biggest hospital in Central Province, attends to about 3,000 patients per month.
Over the years, the demand for healthcare services at Kabwe General Hospital, which opened in 1959, has increased largely because of population growth and disease burden.
“So that tells us that it is quite old. The infrastructure might not be in tune with the modern hospital practices,” says Victor Kusweji, the medical superintendent of the hospital.
Dr Kusweji is right because almost six decades after the hospital opened its doors to the public, the infrastructure was proving inadequate.
This has impacted negatively on the delivery of healthcare services to the people especially that the health facility is the biggest in Central Province, whereas Kabwe has no district hospital.
As a result, Kabwe Central Hospital and Kabwe Mine Hospital have been operating as first and second-level healthcare facilities instead of focusing on the management of complicated cases.
“Kabwe is unique in the sense that we don’t have a district hospital,” Dr Kusweji says.
“So, Kabwe Central Hospital also does the work of a first-level hospital.”
The hospital provides surgical, paediatrics, internal medicine, obstetric and genaecology, mental health, eye services and dental, ear, nose and throat (ENT) services, as well as mental health as some of its main services.
On average, the maternity department of the health facility delivers close to 1,000 babies every quarter.
“Sadly, we actually lose some of our women and we are making all the efforts to make sure that we don’t record any death,” Dr Kusweji says.
Currently, the hospital has a workforce of 720 staff working in different departments.
Recent developments at the hospital have been the upgrading of the school of nursing to include the training of midwives.
Another positive development has been the opening of the Trauma Centre, which has uplifted the profile of the hospital.
The facility, which is the first of its kind in Zambia, is equipped with the necessary tools.
“We did not have a trauma centre. This is the first of its kind and this is where we attend to trauma patients. So it’s a one-stop shop for trauma patients,” Dr Kusweji explains.
The central hospital also has an eye hospital built by Lions Aid Norway at a cost of K8.8 million.
Director of health in Central Province Charles Msiska says the upgrading of Kabwe General Hospital into a central hospital will improve the quality of healthcare services in the province.
“So Kabwe Central Hospital will be only managing complicated cases. Now it means that more specialists are coming to our hospital,” Dr Msiska says.
The upgrading of the hospital comes with specialised manpower and services, meaning that Kabwe Central Hospital will be able to handle complicated cases and provide super-specialised care. Ultimately, this is expected to save patients the trouble of travelling to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka for specialised services.
The plan is to have specialists to conduct specialist outreach clinic (SORC) in peripheral health facilities in the districts of Central Province.
“There are many other cadres that are coming to the central hospital. The more we take specialists from Kabwe Central Hospital to peripheral hospitals, the more we will be building capacity [there],” Dr Msiska adds.
The Ministry of Health has indicated that efforts are being made to equip Kabwe Central Hospital with equipment such as computed tomography scans, X-ray machines and dialysis unit.
“We are lobbying for a dialysis unit because we are having a number of patients with renal failure and we are sending them to the University Teaching Hospital,” Dr Msiska says.
The treatment of cancers is another critical area the hospital is considering. This is why the Ministry of Health is focusing on decentralising the services provided by the Lusaka-based Cancer Diseases Hospital.
Efforts are therefore being made to build the capacity of Kabwe Central Hospital to treat cancers.
The Tropical Diseases Research Centre has also shown interest to establish its presence in Central Province.
“The Minister of Health has actually told them to be in all the provinces. We are actually looking for land. So that’s another added value that we are bringing into Central Province, Kabwe in particular,” Dr Msiska says.
Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya has said the upgrading of Kabwe General Hospital is meant to improve the delivery of health services.
“Speaking of a bigger picture in Central Province, Kabwe General Hospital has been operating as a referral facility not only for Central Province but even for districts that are outside Central Province,” Dr Chilufya notes.
“It is therefore timely that we upgrade Kabwe General Hospital to a central hospital status.”
Dr Chilufya said Government is making significant investments at the hospital to enhance the quality of healthcare services.
The minister cited the opening of the Trauma Centre and Eye Hospital as some of the indications of a positive transformation at the hospital.
He said Government will continue investing in infrastructure development, human resources, equipment and capacity building of health personnel.
“It is only correct and appropriate that with this done, all the other aspects of service delivery that have to do with a third-level hospital come here,” Dr Chilufya said.
The upgraded hospital is now a teaching institution for interns in different specialised fields.
“We have interns under pharmacy, we have interns under medical licentiate and we have the nursing school as well,” Dr Msiska adds.
Kabwe Central Hospital has been twinned with Chainama College of Health Sciences and this deal means that the hospital will train interns from Chainama.
CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kabwe