Zambia is a developing country in Southern Africa that has made some significant advancements in the economy, technology, and healthcare sectors over the past decade. However, the country is suffering from a huge disease burden. One in sixteen children in the country dies before the age of 5. Most of them die from preventable diseases like malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition. Plus, the nation is experiencing an HIV epidemic too, which further adds to the increasing health challenges.
The entire scenario of the health crisis in Zambia boils down to the lack of proper medical facilities and qualified healthcare professionals. Although the government has taken several initiatives for the betterment of the condition, the country requires more input from its youth.
Healthcare Scenario in Zambia
Despite the recent development in clinical medicine in Zambia, the country suffers from numerous challenges. The HIV prevalence is around 15% (more than a million individuals in the country suffer from the disease). Besides, the high burden of illness, staff shortages, increasing poverty, poor distribution of resources in the rural areas, and lack of medical schools in Zambia have made it difficult for the local and national authorities to deliver effective health facilities to the people.
Let’s quickly go through the existing health facilities in the country.
Health Delivery System Levels
The health delivery system in Zambia is categorized into three levels:
- Level 1: Community-level health services that include health centers and district hospitals
- Level 2: General or provincial hospitals
- Level 3: Central or specialist hospitals
The latest data suggests that there are around 1,800 medical facilities and clinical medical schools in Zambia. The largest one of them is the University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka. It serves as a hospital as well as a training institution for future doctors as healthcare workers. It is a Level 3 healthcare facility; other Level 3 hospitals in the country are:
- Levy Mwanawasa Hospital
- Maina Soko Military Hospital
- Kitwe Central Hospital
- Ndola Central Hospital
- Arthur Davison Children’s Hospital
- Cancer Disease Hospital
- Chainama Mental Hospital
Furthermore, several Levels 1 and 2 hospitals are developed throughout the country.
Healthcare spending in Zambia makes 5.5–6.6% of the GDP of the country. Moreover, the sector is highly supported by partners, such as PEPFAR (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, etc. The health system of the country failed to reach its target of healthcare development goals and reducing HIV prevalence. Although the country has brought down the HIV rate to 14.8%, the number of diseases remains a concern.
Zambia faces numerous pregnancy/childbirth-related problems as well. According to WHO, 483 out of 100,000 mothers die every year due to complications during pregnancy.
Some common healthcare issues in the country are:
- There are only 1,600 doctors for a population of over 15 million.
- Two-thirds of doctors live in and serve the urban areas, whereas two-thirds of the population of Zambia lives in rural areas.
- Most of the rural health centers in the country are not equipped well.
- Health workers are not well-educated and trained to treat several acute and chronic conditions.
Global and National Health Initiatives in Zambia
Although Zambia is fighting with various political challenges, the government has taken several initiatives to improve the healthcare of the country. One of the recent developments is community-based innovations, which have been adopted to fill the vast gap and poor diversity of service providers. A large share of clinical medicine in Zambia is still provided by FBOs and NGOs, which turns out to be a significant challenge for the government. These community-based innovations create a sustainable environment for businesses in the healthcare sector.
Besides, the government has taken the following initiatives to improve healthcare in the country:
- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria
- GAVI Alliance
- Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
- Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
- Measles Initiative
- Global Polio Eradication Initiative
Moreover, Zambia has made substantial progress in providing social insurance to most of its population. The country is diversifying its private sector. Such a private sector can provide adequate facilities to the population, along with creating ample job and business opportunities.
The Demand for Healthcare Professionals in the Country
The concerning area in Zambia’s healthcare system remains to be the shortage and limitation of human resources. The country faces an ever-lasting shortage of healthcare workers, primarily in rural areas. The lack of required education facilities in Zambia has also limited the new implementation into the health sector.
Several factors are responsible for the recurring staff shortages in the healthcare sector of the country, such as:
- Poor service and working conditions
- Improper staff distribution
- Inadequate medical schools in Zambia
- Weak human resource management
To address these issues, the government launched the Human Resources for Health Strategic Plan 2011-2015. This plan was designed to provide better working conditions and resource management for healthcare workers. Thus, being a healthcare professional in Zambia is now a matter of pride.
Moreover, doctors in the country are seen with respect and admiration. Sadly, the critical shortage of healthcare workers persists, which leads to substantially high demand for skilled, qualified doctors. This increase in demand has created several career opportunities for aspiring doctors in the country as well.
A Career in Medicine in Zambia
If you are about to conclude your school education and filtering career options, MBChB in Zambia would be a great pick, and for rightful reasons, as discussed below.
- Job security
With the surging health crisis in Zambia, doctors will always be high in demand. Thus, you won’t need to worry about job security.
- New technology
The government is investing heavily in medical technology. And, as medical professionals, you will be among the first in the country to adopt, learn, and use the advancements.
There’s no better job in the world than making people’s lives better. The admiration, respect, and acknowledgment you will receive are simply fulfilling and satisfying.
Healthcare in Zambia is one of the government’s major investing sectors. Doctors are one of the highest-paid professionals in the county. Thus, you will never feel underpaid or undervalued.
- Foreign opportunities
Doctors are in demand all over the world. If you are a specialist in a particular field, you will come across various opportunities to work abroad.
How Can the Healthcare System of Zambia Be Improved?
The future of healthcare of Zambia is in the hands of the students who aspire to become medical professionals and serve the country. With the shortage of doctors on the rise, the opportunities in the medical sector are endless. By becoming a healthcare professional, you can provide your services to those in need – the rural population – and make the country healthy at its foundation.
The government of the country is taking various steps to make working more feasible for doctors. And it is speculated that if a large number of students (who have completed their secondary education) decide to take up medical courses in Zambia, most of Zambia’s health crisis will come to an end by 2030. Therefore, you not only have the chance to choose a lucrative career option with seamless growth and development but also get an opportunity to play a role in the betterment of the nation as well.
Medical Education for Healthcare Enhancement in Zambia
Pursuing medical education not only offers a good career but also improves the healthcare base of Zambia. Medical schools, like Texila American University (TAU), in Zambia, offer quality medical education.
Such medical schools in Zambia enables individuals to become a doctor in Zambia and serve the nation in improving healthcare. It provides you with internationally accepted knowledge, skills, and hands-on practical experience to become an expert, competent doctor. From primary healthcare to behavioral sciences and surgery, the program ensures an overall development required to serve at the global stage.
The healthcare predicament in Zambia is continuously improving. However, the shortage of skilled doctors and medical professionals remains to be a hurdle. The government is taking significant measures to promote better healthcare in the country. However, it is the ideal time for aspiring doctors to develop the skills and serve toward the prosperity of their nation.