Renovation of the Medical Laboratory – a game changer for patients and staff

On the 27th of June the management of SFH drew up the contract with Top Firm Zambia, the contractor that won the tender for renovation and expansion of the Medical Laboratory. The works will start in July.

Mr Kapembwa Sikwewa

Mr. Kapembwa Sikwewa, the Biomedical Scientist and the Laboratory in Charge, has described the upcoming renovation and expansion of the Medical Laboratory at St. Francis Hospital as a Game Changer.
Mr. Sikwewa: “The renovation will promote safety for patients and staff, good organisation and increase the profile of investigations to be done. This will eventually help the SFH Medical Laboratory to meet the standards for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accreditation.”

The Medical Support Group and Wildegeese of the Netherlands will fund this 100.000 Euro worth project. These major works will be supervised by SFH project manager, Mr Chungu Mutale.

Authored by Fred P. Ntongwe

Draught in Zambia

During the last rainy season, Zambia has experienced extremely low rainfall, culminating in the worst drought the country has experienced since records began.
The effects were most clearly observed in crop production: one million hectares of planted maize has been adversely affected across 84 of the 116 districts in Zambia
Similarly, pasture availability has reduced for animals.
To beat the problems the focus is now on distribution of available food across the country, e.g.extra food for schools meals, under 5 clinics and consultation points for pregnant women.
The hospital also experiences the results of the drought with more malnutrition patients than ever.
Also the mais they serve in the wards will cost more than in the past years.
Due to the low rainfall, lakes like Lake Kariba are not full enough to give the whole country electricity. Zesco no longer provides electricity for 8 hours during the day.

In his statement on the drought of April 16, Mr. Hakadainde Hichilema appealed to the international community, the partners within the country, the private sector, the church and civil society to support Zambia.

Renovation Laboratory

The Dutch Medical Support Group of St Francis’ Hospital has agreed to finance the total renovation of the Laboratory. This is a big project of an estimated 100.000 Euros, which is more expensive than the initial estimate, due to the considerably raised cost of materials. Fortunately, a long-standing partner of MSG, Wilde Ganzen Foundation (Wild Geese) is going to participate and grant a generous subsidy.
A BoQ has been drawn up by Mr Chungu Mutale, SFH’s capabel project manager,  and after the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) has been signed by both the boards, the project will be on its way!

Project renovation St Kizito completed

Mr Chungu B Mutale reports:

The renovation of the Kizito surgical ward has successfully been completed and the patients have been moved back in the ward.
The actual delivery period surpassed the initially proposed one. Some of the challenges that might have led to this are:
(1) the countless stoppages during the roofing works as this activity was carried out during the rainy season,
(2) No other works could be done simultaneously with the roofing works as patients were still in Kizito ward when the roofing was started on the Mukasa side (Mukasa patients moved out first to allow the contractor to replace the roofing on the Mukasa side, then Kizito patients moved out later to allow the continuation of the roof replacement and to allow the rest of the interior works to commence) and
(3) the slight delay in the rectification of snags by the contractor. Clearly the above factors were not considered the time the acceptable delivery period was being drafted.
The project is now in the Defect Liability phase for further rectification of any snags that will come up during the operation of the ward for the next six months.
This was project of the St Francis Hospital MSG (Netherlands) and Wilde Ganzen (Netherlands)

‘My experience at St. Francis’

“My Experience at St. Francis”

By Kitty Bird, 3rd Year Medical Student, Ireland

My time is St. Francis was incredible – I arrived very nervous to experience such a different hospital environment, with diseases I had never come across. I visited St. Francis because of my friend Tiernan, he had stayed there the year before and told me all about it and how kind everyone in St. Francis and Katete had been, and how much he learned.

Our accommodation and food was provided in the hospital campus and we felt very safe and comfortable we stayed in little apartments with their own kitchens and bathrooms so we could cook our own food if we wanted to. We also had 3 meals a day and laundry included in our accommodation cost, provided by Tanzan and the other mess staff. The food was always delicious and anytime I went in to see if they had an extra bread roll for me they would come out with a full plate of rolls freshly baked. All of this came at a really good price for us and was definitely affordable for students.

The staff were all incredibly kind to us and welcomed us instantly – particularly Dr. Tim and rest of his team that I started out with in Internal Medicine. It was all very new to me – some of the diseases I had never even heard of, how they treated patients with so much less resources than at home in Ireland, patients who spoke a different language – but the team took so much time to answer my questions, explain what patients were saying and what was going on, and showed me a whole new range of clinical skills. The dedication and perseverance of the staff was incredibly admirable, especially in such a challenging environment – and this was probably the biggest thing I took away from St. Francis, that when I graduate hopefully I can return and help the hospital in the life changing work they’re doing.

We also loved staying in Katete and going into town to explore the markets, play pool and cards and go dancing. Everyone in Katete was incredibly welcoming, and every Thursday we went with some of the doctors for dinner in Pangani Lodge – which was always delicious. We made so many new friends, who we played music with, learned Chichewa, drove around Katete, and learned how to tie our Chitenges hahaha. I will never forget everyone we met in Katete and St. Francis hospital and hope to see everyone again next summer!

I am very happy that I could see where the money we raised is going to and that I was lucky enough to meet the people it will help. I also learned so much from a medical perspective – giving medications, writing patient notes, assisting in Caesarian sections. I am so grateful to St. Francis for the opportunity they give to students and for all the work they do in Katete and neighbouring towns. I will absolutely be back next summer to do the same, with more skills to assist and learn from the brilliant staff of St. Francis. Zikomo Kwambiri!!

Young doctors at St Francis’ Hospital

by John Mwanza

Malou Sorbi is a medical student from Netherlands. She came to St. Francis Hospital on 27th May, 2023 and left on 7th July, 2023. She was inspired to come to Zambia at St. Francis Hospital Katete by a friend who once did his medical experience at St. Francis Hospital early 2023 who was also from Netherlands.
Malou’s interest was to learn about surgical conditions and their treatments, how health care services are provided and also to learn the Zambian culture and language. “I have learnt a bit of Chichewa and I love it. People appreciate it when you try the local language”. In an interview Malou said, “my experience at St. Francis Hospital is very good. In my first two weeks I was getting used to the work in the wards and theatre. After two weeks things got very nice. St. Francis Hospital is a good place to get working experience”. Malou worked in two surgical wards (Kizito Male ward and Mukasa Female ward).

“Doctors in surgical wards are working very hard to provide good health care. Sometimes drugs and other working materials are not available, but they still figure out to do it the other way with the equipment they have. I have seen patients come from far to be helped in St. Francis Hospital, also because it’s known as a good hospital’’. Malou loved the meals prepared at the Mess. “Meals at the Mess are very nice and varying. I loved eating from there and I will definitely miss it’’ she said.

‘’To my follow medical students who consider to come to St. Francis Hospital, I can say that it’s a very good decision to come here and it will be an amazing experience. I can recommend it to everyone! Learn what people do here, eat the good food and learn how people are positive to be treated at the Hospital” she said.



Power Generator for St Francis’

St. Francis Hospital is grateful to receive a power generator. Ministry of Health has given St. Francis Hospital a power generator. This power generator will help the hospital to supply power when there is power interruption from ZESCO power which has been a challenge to the hospital.

Thanksgiving service for the 75th Anniversary and official unveiling of St. Francis Hospital as a third Level Hospital (Specialist Hospital).

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.


Heavy rains cause havoc in Katete District

Heavy rainfall has been affecting the Eastern part of Zambia since early February, causing severe floods which has resulted in casualties and damage to a lot of properties.
There have been media reports of flooded houses, damaged roads and damaged bridges across the Province with more than 500 people being reported evacuated from their damaged homes.

A recent report by the Zambia Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) indicated that “Heavy rains and flash floods have caused damage to homes and livelihoods in Eastern Province since mid-January. Lusangazi and Mambwe Districts were heavily affected with several homes being damaged or destroyed”.

Katete District has not been spared from the ravaging effects of the continuous rains. Hundreds of hectares of planted fields have been submerged in water threatening household food security and the hospital is anticipating a rise in malnutrition rates this year due to poor harvests.
The District in the past few months had experienced frequent and prolonged power outages as a result of damage to power installations. This has in turn affected the provision of health services at the hospital due to interruption in internet services and water supply.

The interruption of power supply at the hospital due to damaged power installations delayed the treatment of patients because investigations such as imaging and laboratory could not done on time.
The impact of the power failure was strongly felt in the operating room as operations had to be delayed, neonatal units and intensive care where the interruption of power even for a few minutes posed a formidable challenge.

Delayed referrals from the health centres due to damaged roads and overflooding rivers contributed to the poor outcomes of patients especially in maternal and newborn.

Not to over-emphasize the destruction of property by the fallen trees on the infrastructure at the hospital as a result of heavy rains. We are currently reconstructing a walkway from X-Ray to Maternity at a great cost which was damaged by the fallen trees. These funds could have been used to provide direct health care services to patients.

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