Columnists Features

State strengthens primary health care services

HEALTH Posts are an important component in the delivery of primary health care.
Efficient delivery of primary health care services is in line with the revised Government agenda, which focuses on strengthening the health system and delivery services using the primary health care approach.
In 2012, late President Michael Sata in his address to Parliament announced that Government would embark on a vigorous programme to construct 650 health posts countrywide.
The construction of the health posts was in an effort to increase access to primary health care, especially in rural areas. The project was estimated to gobble K250 million.
So far, 201 health posts have been handed over to Government and are operational, while another 30 are scheduled to be commissioned soon.
Former deputy minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya noted that significant progress in the construction of 650 prefabricated health posts has been made. He assured that Government would ensure the health posts were completed within the new timeline of this October.
“Out of the 650 health posts under construction, 547 sites have been taken position of, while civil works have been completed in 429 sites. There is working progress on 12 sites,” he said.
Dr Chilufya added that in 345 sites, boreholes and pumps had been installed while 306 super structures have been erected.
The minister said high impact interventions at primary level will be done through the health posts. The centres, which are community based, will comprise caregivers, environmental technicians and nurses, who will provide high impact services.
Government was re-engineering the entry point in the health sector, from the specialised departments and hospitals to communities to focus on maintaining the population by keeping it healthy.
This is in a bid to prevent diseases so that there is less need for curative care. Government was investing in high impact but low cost community level interventions to promote good health.
The former minister at that time said health promotion is a significant pillar in efficient service delivery. Investing in robust health promotion and disease control measures would keep the population healthy and reduce the need for curative services.
It was also noted that the health posts will partially operate as wellness centres to enable citizens keep healthy. “The health workers will be running these centres like wellness centres, partially where you can check your blood pressure (BP), among others.
“So, we will be using various forms of communication at the health posts to talk to people about the various lifestyle diseases,” he said.
It is cardinal to promote healthy lifestyles, especially at the primary care level. It was observed that the increase in the middle class has brought about obesity, which was predisposing many Zambians to hypertension, cardiac diseases, cancers, diabetics and other chronical respiratory disorders.
Meanwhile, the construction of the health posts has cheered many Zambians across the country.
In Itezhi-Tezhi, Monde Hamaambo, a mother of three, says people in the area are relieved with the construction of the health posts. The district has been allocated eight health posts, of which four have been completed and the rest are at slab level.
Ms Hamaambo says women used to face difficulties to access health services, especially pregnant women, as they have to walk long distances.
“People are happy with the developmental programmes in this district, especially the construction of the health posts.
“I’m grateful to Government for bringing us these health posts because I almost gave birth to my third child on my way to the health centre, which is about 20 kilometres away. It is our prayer that once the health posts are complete, Government will deploy personnel there,” Ms Hamaambo says.
Chibombo district is another area that has benefited from the health posts. District commissioner Barnabas Musupelo says so far, five out of the nine health posts that were given to the district have been completed and will be commissioned next month.
Mr Musupelo says construction of the other four health posts has advanced and will be completed soon.
“We hope to see a reduction in maternal and child mortality rates because our mothers used to walk long distances to access health services. Once the five health posts are commissioned, they will further reduce transportation costs,” he says.

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