On 6th May, 2023, St. Francis Hospital celebrated 75 years of its existence under the theme: “Celebrating 75 years of growth in health care delivery through innovation, accountability and partnership”. The Thanksgiving service for the 75th Anniversary and official unveiling of the Hospital as third Level Hospital (Specialist Hospital) was graced by the Provincial Minister for Eastern Province Hon. Peter Simon Phiri MP.
Eastern Provincial Minister Hon. Peter Simon Phiri MP said that the UPND government is aware of challenges that SFH Hospital is facing in the delivery of the health services. These challenges include shortage of staff, especially specialist doctors, old and out of date equipment, old infrastructure and inadequate medical supplies and drugs. UPND government through the able leadership of his excellence president Hakainde Hichilema, is committed to work with the churches in promoting development in the health sector. St. Francis Hospital received 47 new members of staff during the last recruitment and increased budgetary allocation to the health sector.
The Eastern Provincial Minister said St. Francis Hospital has built a good reputation over the years of its existence which echoes beyond the boundaries of this Nation. St. Francis Hospital is the first mission Hospital to be upgraded as a third level Hospital in Zambia and this is another demonstration of the government commitment of bringing specialised health services as closer to the people of Eastern province and beyond the boundaries if possible. UPND government will try hard to provide the necessary human capital, equipment and financial resources for the Hospital to offer health services which are in line with the new attained level. “The UPND government through the able leadership of his excellence president Hakainde Hichilema appreciates the contributions of the Churches and various partners in the delivery of health services” said the Provincial Minister for Eastern Province.
On behalf of the Board and Management of St. Francis Hospital, Bishop George Lungu appreciated the government of Zambia and various partners for their positive contribution in the growth of health care service delivery at the Hospital. The contribution of the following partners was recognized during his speech and these were: The Medical Support Group of the Netherlands, Friend of St. Francis Hospital, CMB Canada, Christian Aware Team, Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), 500 Miles, Fistula Foundation, Carita Organisation of the Catholic Diocese of Chipata and many other partners.
The Bishop thanked the UPND government for upgrading the Hospital to third level. He further explained that the Hospital still faces a number of challenges which hinders the provisions of health care services. Shortage of staff, especially midwifes, general workers and specialist Doctors are the many challenges that Hospital is facing.
Looking back and future plans for SFH
Dr. Lalick Banda in an interview said a lot has changed at St. Francis Hospital through the help of the Zambian government and various partners. Over 75 years of St. Francis Hospital’s existence, there is great improvement in terms of infrastructure development through old buildings renovation and new buildings construction. Number of bed spaces has increased to 450 and it will soon be 490 after the completion of the Fistula ward. Number of staff has also increased from 300 to 700 and number of doctors from 23 to 50. Installation of the oxygen plant has made things easier for the Hospital because it is now able to generate oxygen itself. He further added that the status of the Hospital has been elevated from second level to third level hospital (Specialist Hospital) and this is to bring specialised health services closer to the members of the community and beyond.
“However, the hospital still has things that have remained the same over some period of time”, he said. Some infrastructures have remained the same. Administration block and Out Patient Department are old buildings which need renovations and restructuring. Dr. Banda said that the hospital has no good imaging equipment which is X-Ray, Ultra-sound and CT scan machine, no Dialysis unit and not enough senior doctors. These challenges have made the Hospital to still be referring many patients to Lusaka which is a challenge to a lot of patients and too costly for the Hospital.
Dr. Banda said future plans for the Hospital is to reduce the number of referrals by purchasing a Dialysis Unit, a CT scan, ultra-modern X-Ray and Ultra-sound machines. Increase the number of senior doctors through the help of the government and partners. Due to financial challenges that the Hospital is facing, the Hospital wants to set up various income generating activities that will help to have financial stability to improve good health service delivery and other services at the Hospital.