Editor's Comment

UTH milestones deserve cheer

THAT the University Teaching Hospital has saved about US$350,000 (over K5 million) from conducting 10 complicated cardiac operations locally among adults last year is a milestone in medical circles.
For a long time, Government repatriated patients with complicated cardiac conditions to either India or South Africa.
This meant that for each such operation conducted outside Zambia, US$35,000 was paid by the Government.
However, the UTH medical personnel have worked hard to ensure that fewer patients are repatriated abroad.
As a result of the doctors’ commitment, UTH has achieved milestones. There have been landmark operations in various specialties – cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, renal services – both surgery and dialysis, ophthalmology, cardiology, infectious diseases, and many others.
This has translated into the savings of financial resources which could have otherwise been spent on purchasing of air tickets for patients and their care-givers, treatment and other attendant costs.
The cost of transporting and caring for a patient outside the country is high. Therefore, any efforts by any citizen or institution in saving the country such costs is commendable as resources saved can be utilised to improve service delivery in the health and other sectors, especially given the economic challenges the country currently faces.
These resources, if kept in the country, can be applied differently and benefit the local economy.
To conduct complicated operations, there is need for expertise, equipment and related infrastructure, thus having managed to conduct the operations means Government has invested accordingly.
There is a thing called medical tourism whereby countries develop their medical practice so much that citizens of other countries visit with a view to paying for some medical procedures. Simply put, there is money in having good health care service.
Also, medical tourism has become a big forex earner for countries such as India and South Africa because patients spend most of their time in top hotels near the health facilities where they receive treatment.
Therefore, improving the country’s health services does not only save the country costs associated with evacuating citizens to other countries with requisite medical facilities, but can also help position the country as a destination for medical tourism thereby diversifying our sources of foreign earnings.
Therefore, UTH medics deserve commendation for making a difference in the lives of the citizens and raising the profile of the country’s biggest medical referral facility.
The saved funds can be channelled towards research and development as well as for the procurement of equipment such as dialysis machines and microscopes, among the many needs.
To the medical practitioners, it improves their reputation and standing in the eyes of Zambians and the outside world.
These successes recorded build the confidence that people have in our medical practitioners and are a trigger for the locals to opt for local medical attention rather than foreign.
The success is an endorsement of the improved skilled human resource in Zambia and thus able to conduct complicated cardiac surgeries.
It is also an indicator that this country has medical facilities that can be used for income generation in form of medical tourism.
It is also an indicator that there is an Increase in the number of patients requiring complicated cardiac surgeries and thus prompting us to look at the causes.
At a time when there is so much negativity on social media on a number of things in the country, the success by the doctors shows that so much can be achieved if citizens can put energy into bettering others and the surrounding.
To borrow from neurosurgeon Kachinga Sichizya’s words: Long live the UTH. May it continue to be a place of healing and of hope.

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