Editor's Comment

Way to go, UTH

THE decision by the University Teaching Hospitals (UTH) to venture into farming in order to sustain its feeding programme for patients admitted to the health facility is highly commendable.
Last week, UTH director clinical care and diagnostic services Alex Makupe announced that the health facility cannot continue to depend on well-wishers for support to sustain the feeding programme.
“We have been directed by the Minister of Health to ensure that we embark on projects where we can keep chickens, cows, goats, grow vegetables and other kinds of crops so that we can successfully run our feeding programme for patients,” he said.
As the country’s largest health institution, UTH has indeed taken a lead in healthcare provision by following the Government directive to venture into farming.
There is, indeed, no greater empowerment than one having his or her own food source. And for an institution as large as UTH, surely it must have many stomachs to feed, and a stable and reliable source of food is a must.
And how else can such a feeding programme be sustained other than by having a farm project that continually supplies meat and vegetables?
We also know that UTH, being the country’s largest referral hospital, takes in patients from some of the poorest communities around the country.
These patients usually have no support in terms of food and other basic needs because they may not have close relations in Lusaka, and so they have to rely on the hospital or well-wishers who visit the health facility with donations.
But this surely is not sustainable. What happens when the donations do not come?
With such projects, the hospital will no longer rely on hand-outs, and patients will be taken care of without straining the budget of the institution.
It also goes without saying that diet plays a very important role in one’s health, and as noted by Dr Makupe, some patients take long to recover due to poor diet.
Therefore, it must be a major concern of every health institution that admits patients to ensure that they are able to provide a good balanced diet.
But more so, this initiative will in the long run save the institution huge sums of money which can be channelled to other needy areas.
This will have a lasting impact on the country’s food basket, and economy at large, as it will create extra jobs for our youths.
We urge the hospital to make good use of the land they have acquired and ensure that it is used productively.
We say so because there is a lot of titled farm land lying idle out there.
We urge other institutions that provide social services to society such as schools to emulate the move by the UTH, and embark on economic activities that will increase their incomes, and contribute to national growth.
We can all – even in a small way – contribute to the food basket.
We also urge citizens to take this directive at an individual level. What happened to the culture of backyard gardening?

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