By Chikumbi Katebe
THE University Teaching Hospital has been split into four hospitals and Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) has commended the action, saying the move will improve service delivery and efficiency.
The Association welcomed the development as it was in line with Zambia’s aspiration of turning UTH into a full medical centre of excellence for the region.
ZMA president Aaron Mujajati said the transformation of UTH into four first-level hospitals was long overdue in view of its dimension which lacked specialization as a leading health facility in the country.
Dr Mujajati said the separation of expertise should enhance service delivery in the different faculties of study as a teaching hospital and practice as the highest level hospital in the country.
He said UTH was already the best nursing care training institution in Zambia, and that the decision by the Ministry of Health to decentralise operations and management of the institution would ensure efficiency in service delivery.
Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya announced recently that the Government has embarked on the transformation programme to split UTH into four high-level hospitals by upgrading the children’s wards into a pediatric hospital to house its own facilities such as operating theatres, laboratories and even a mortuary.
Others included the eye hospital, the maternal health hospital, surgery clinic and adult facility to be known as the adult hospital.
“This was in line with achieving the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as mandated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the quality of healthcare provision to all citizens.
“We are working on major rehabilitations of equipment and also infrastructure projects to increase capacity and service delivery, but we need to develop sustainable human capital in the various specialized fields,” he said.
Dr Chilufya said the introduction of these institutions would help promote specialization as well as efficiency and know-how in service provision.
He said Government would automatically improve funding to the separate managements of the hospitals for their operations with adequate drug supply, medical equipment and staffing levels to meet the quality of care expected.
And the ZMA president said the association supported Government’s move to decentralize UTH which had suffered huge management challenges owing to its gigantic system of management and dimension.
Dr Mujajati said they were in full support of the Government reforms to transform UTH into separate specialized hospitals in upgrading the status of the health sector in Zambia.
He explained that as separate hospitals, the facilitiess would be entitled to Government grants for their efficiency and also have specialized staff recruitment which would call for expert training in the different fields such as renal and cardiology specialists to locally deal with kidney complications and heart problems.
And Dr Mujajati has disclosed that the current health worker recruitment aimed at about 5,000 new employees was underway and progressing well with 300 new nurses already taken up by UTH.
He said the massive recruitment in the heath sector should also be targeted at improved services at the newly constructed district hospitals such as Matero, Chilenje and Chipata in Lusaka to help reduce pressure on UTH, as they would increase demand in their efficiency.
He said the Ministry of Health must demand excellency in the operations of all health facilities especially UTH and the three new hospitals in Lusaka which act as buffer zones for UTH.