22 January 2013

Zambia: 52 Health Posts On Cards in Central Province

PLANS to construct 52 health posts in Central Province alone out of the 650 planned health posts countrywide has been described as a shot in the arm and will assist in taking health services closer to the people.

Health Deputy Minister Patrick Chikusu explained that plans to build 52 health posts in the province were aimed at taking health services closer to the people, which is in line with the Patriotic Front (PF) Government policy.

Dr Chikusu said the construction of the health posts would minimise on patients having to travel long distances.

He said the Government was also addressing issues of human resource, which is key to health care delivery.

Dr Chikusu was speaking during his tour of the province to inspect developmental projects in Mkushi, Serenje, Chibombo, Kapiri Mposhi, and Kabwe.

He said it was wrong to condemn the Government when it was working quietly and efficiently in ensuring that health care delivery was provided to its people.

He further said the fight against cervical cancer should not be left to the Government and First Lady Christine Kaseba alone, but requires concerted efforts by all Zambians.

The deputy minister said the Government was concerned with increased cases of cervical cancer and that it was important for women to go for screening to save lives.

"With the construction of 52 health posts, this will surely improve health services to our people who have over the years been subjected to walking long distances to receive medical attention," he said.

He added that it was important for those in authority to meet party officials to make them understand the vision and plans of the Government.

By SYLVIA MWEETWA -

THE move by the Government in the last one year to work towards improving supply of drugs in health institutions not only in Central Province but the whole nation has brought about hope among Zambians.

This has been done by the Government to end stories of shortages of drugs in hospitals and clinics aimed at phasing out the issuing of prescriptions to patients so that they could obtain the drugs elsewhere.

But the recent interception of boxes of assorted medicines suspected to have been stolen from Mumbwa General Hospital allegedly connected to a pharmacist is unfortunate.

Last week police picked up a man of Kuomboka Township in Lusaka identified as Jeu Sichaamba travelling from Mumbwa to Lusaka with 23 boxes which contained 126 bottles of medicines.

He later led the officers to a pharmacist, a Mr Morris Ngwenya, who is a member of staff at the hospital.

Central Province Commissioner of Police, Standwell Lungu confirmed the picking up of the two while provincial medical officer, Dickson Suya could not give details but referred queries to the police.

But sources within Mumbwa General Hospital narrated that the hospital had for some time experienced shortages of drugs because of rampant thefts and it was good that the police had acted.

And Mr Lungu said the police at Kapyanga check-point found Ngwenya with the boxes but failed to account for what he was carrying but later led them to the pharmacist.

He said investigations had been instituted and assured that the matter would be investigated thoroughly.

And Health Deputy Minister Patrick Chikusu has called for the arrest of people involved in thefts of drugs considering that the Government was working hard to ensure that the medicines were made available at all times.

Dr Chikusu said police should not leave any stone unturned and called for stiffer punishment for such offenders.

He said in the past one year, the Government had managed to record an 83 per cent availability of medicine in hospitals but that it was saddening that some people wanted to draw back such progressive programmes.

"It is saddening that reports of theft of medicines are resurfacing but we will not allow such acts.

"These acts may derail progress considering that we have been working to improving availability of medicines in our health institutions," he said.

He said no person would be shielded if found wanting and that the Government would not allow people who want to derail Government's progress.

NGO steps up campaign against child cancers

By Miriam Zimba

FOUNDER member and executive director of Kayula Childhood Cancer Foundation (KCCF), Mumba Sata has called for a vigorous campaign to raise public awareness on cancers that affect children.

Ms Sata, who lost her daughter Kayula to a rare cancer- Neuroblastoma (a cancer that mainly afflicts children under the age of five years), said early detection could save many lives of children.

Ms Sata said in Lusaka during a media familiarisation of KCCF and the University Teaching Hospital paediatric cancer ward.

She said it was important to raise awareness because society associates cancer with elderly people and yet it affects children as well.

"Most people think that cancer is an adult ailment; they are not aware that there are cancers that affect children," she said.

She said the motivation behind the establishment of KCCF was to help break the silence surrounding the devastating ailment.

Ms Sata disclosed that KCCF is a non-governmental organisation launched in May 2012 as a measure aimed at assisting parents and care-givers whose children were affected by cancer.

She said the foundation was also establishing a transit home in Lusaka's Woodlands area, where parents and care-givers of children coming from far flung areas could temporarily reside in between chemotherapy treatment sessions.

Ms Sata called for more investment in training of more paediatric cancer specialists, adding that the problem has been compounded by inadequate staffing levels and lack of equipment at the paediatric cancer ward.

She said in the build-up to the International Day for Childhood Cancer, which falls on February 15, there would be deliberate public awareness campaigns to ensure increased knowledge on cancers that affect children.

Ms Sata disclosed that the survival rate for children with cancer in Zambia currently stands at one out of 10, while in Europe the survival rate was eight out of 10.

Proper nutrition vital in pregnancy

By JONES H. MUNANG'ANDU

AT critical periods in the development of specific organs and tissues, there is increased vulnerability to nutrient deficiencies, nutrient excesses, or toxins.

For example, excess vitamin A taken early in pregnancy can cause brain malformations in the foetus.

One important medical advance of the late 20th Century was the recognition that a generous intake of folic acid, also called folate or folacin, in early pregnancy reduces the risk of birth defects, specifically neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly (partial or complete absence of the brain), which involve spinal cord damage and varying degrees of paralysis, if not death.

For this reason, supplementation with 400 microgrammes (0.4 milligramme) of folic acid is recommended for all women who have a chance of becoming pregnant.

Good food sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit and juice, beans and other legumes, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and liver.

Overall nutritional requirements increase with pregnancy. In the second and third trimesters, pregnant women need additional food energy--about 300 kilocalories above non-pregnant needs.

Most additional nutrient needs can be met by selecting food wisely, but an iron supplement (30 milligrammes per day) is usually recommended during the second and third trimesters, in addition to a folic acid supplement throughout pregnancy.

Other key nutrients of particular concern are protein, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc.

Heavy alcohol consumption or "binge drinking" during pregnancy can cause foetal alcohol syndrome, a condition with irreversible mental and physical retardation.

Even lighter social drinking during pregnancy may result in milder damage--growth retardation, behavioural or learning abnormalities, or motor impairments--sometimes described as foetal alcohol effects.

Until a completely safe level of intake can be determined, pregnant women are advised not to drink at all, especially during the first trimester.

Caffeine consumption is usually limited as a precautionary measure, and cigarette smoking is not advised under any circumstances.

Limiting intake of certain fish, such as swordfish and shark, which may be contaminated with methylmercury, is also recommended.

An extra 500 kilocalories of food per day is needed to meet the energy demands of lactation. Because pregnancy depletes maternal iron stores, iron supplementation during lactation may be advised.

Breast-fed infants may be sensitive to the constituents and flavours of foods and beverages consumed by the mother.

In general, lactating women are advised to consume little, if any, alcohol.

The nutritional essentials in pregnancy are the solution to a paradigm of problems that many pregnant women are not aware of today.

Now that you have joined the group of people that have knowledge of this information, we trust you may make a difference in your neighbour through sharing the knowledge herein and make an appointment with a health specialist in your area to learn more about nutritional essentials in pregnancy. jonesmuna@yahoo.com Mobile; 0966565670/097936252

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