The University Teaching Hospital, formerly called Lusaka Hospital, is a hospital in Lusaka Zambia. It is the largest hospital in Zambia, with 1,655 beds. It is a teaching hospital and, as such, is used to train local medical students and nurses. The hospital was founded in 1934 at Livingstone to accommodate large numbers of referred cases but was later moved to the capital due to the need for a larger hospital. UTH offers both inpatient and outpatient care and is a center for specialist referrals from across the country.

The Zambia – United States Exchange Alumni Association (ZUEAA) Lusaka, coordinated by Mr. Akufuna Muyunda a YALI RLC SA 2017 and the US Embassy on Saturday 8th February 2020 donated bedsheets and assorted toiletries to the Children’s Hospital Malnutrition Ward. The objective was: “To provide support, love, build meaningful relationships and gain some understanding of some of the challenges the kids’ faces in the hospital.” The management and staff of the hospital were grateful for the donation which was the associations’ first project.

During our visit, we were graced by Mrs. Victoria Nthala, chief nursing officer. She highlighted to us that the University Teaching Hospital cutters for the whole country, and our assistance that day, therefore, did not just support governments’ effort to improve health but also helping the Zambian Children and mothers. Every day the hospital faces different challenges, and the rise of children admitted can sometimes be at a peak and while sometimes funds can be there from government and other donors, there is always a need for cooperation partners to ensure that those everyday challenges are addressed from these huge admissions.

We found out that linen is an important need to the hospital because of decontamination, and the need to ensure that the kids have good and fresh supplies to create a healthy environment for them in the hospital.

Currently, one of the biggest challenges to the children’s ward is the lack of ventilators. They only have 3 ventilators and in need of 5 more. Ventilators provide life support to kids who may have problems with breathing which may come as a result of different diseases including dysfunctions in the respiratory system. More often kids come in but not all get life-support when necessary, as is in many cases. With few ventilators and more kid patients means some will not be attended to immediately and this becomes a contributing factor to child death at UTH.

We also discovered that one of the biggest health challenges the kids face is acute malnutrition. In some cases, the situation can be so severe when kids are brought in the hospital, the response to treatment almost seems impossible because of the severity of the disease or condition.

“In low-income countries, acute malnutrition continues to be the most important risk factor for illnesses and deaths. Acute malnutrition is an extremely severe disorder. It is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. ”- (Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism by Anwar Said)

One of the biggest contributing factors to this is inadequate knowledge from mothers about nutrition. And also the economic status of these women makes it difficult for them to provide good food to their children.

Apart from the feeds, F 70 and F 100, that the hospital provides to the kids to help them have a well-balanced diet, “we must mention it has been very effective”, the hospital’s cry is to educate more women to information on nutrition to reduce acute malnutrition in Zambia.

This calls for effective systems on how this pandemic can be implemented to not only providing information to these women but also opportunities for co-operating partners to come in and help improve the economic status of these women through different ‘Women empowering programs.’ And furthermore, an opportunity for cooperate partners to play a critical role in creating a healthy environment for the kids including buying ventilators for life support for many kids experiencing breathing challenges at UTH and give support to different challenges that arise every day in the hospital.

Health is a human right, and we can all play a vital role to ensure improved access to health for the kids in Zambia and the need to empower young people to manage their healthy lifestyles.

The U.S. Embassy in Zambia in conjunction with the Zambia U.S. Exchange Alumni Association is pleased to notify you on its intention to visit the malnutrition children’s ward for its planned community service where Lusaka based alumni will make a small contribution in terms of 70 children’s linen (bedsheets) and some assorted items (diapers, washing paste, bathing soaps, toilet paper, etc).  ZUEAA would like to also spend some quality time with the medical staff/workers, patients and/or their parents to familiarize themselves with the many other challenges the ward faces. This is in order that future opportunities or lobby for further support to the ward and other children’s wards may be realized.

The information presented in this report is part of YALI TV Country Correspondence Coordinator’s report 2020. The information’s overall goals were to educate and show the activities of the YALI RLC and MWF Alumni Chapter in Zambia. All written information was presented before March 2020.

Ethan Fiore kafwani
Country Correspondence Coordinator Zambia