Zambia borders Malawi and is a much larger country formed of high plateaus and river basins, with a number of national parks. Its main river, the Zambezi, forms the world-famous Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) near the town of Livingstone and the border with Zimbabwe. The 18 million people in Zambia live mainly around the capital, Lusaka, and the Copperbelt province in the north-west of the country. Historically, copper was Zambia’s main export, and though output declined in the latter part of the last century, mining for copper and other metals remains a very important industry. Agriculture is the other main area of employment and economic activity. Economic growth has meant that Zambia became a middle-income country in 2011. However this growth has mostly benefited only a small number of people and poverty is still widespread. The World Bank estimated in 2015 that 58% of Zambians earned less than the international poverty line of $1.90 per day.
The Need In Zambia
Much work has been done in Zambia on improving health, and life expectancy has been improving in recent decades. However there are many challenges. Around 1 in 16 children in Zambia do not survive to their 5th birthday and like many countries in the region, Zambia has been very affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Roughly 11% of adults are HIV positive with the proportion twice as high in urban areas compared to rural areas.
The number of health professionals (including doctors and nurses) remains well below the level recommended by the World Health Organization. Recent estimates are that there is one doctor for every 12,000 patients in Zambia. The health worker shortage is made worse by other longstanding issues, such as fewer staff working in rural areas and high staff turnover. The population of Zambia is growing, so more and more staff will be needed in the future.
Where We Work In Zambia
The University of Zambia, based in Lusaka, is one of four government-run institutions in Zambia that train doctors and other health professionals. It was established in 1965 and has as its motto “Service and Excellence”. The medical school was the first in Zambia and is set opposite University Teaching Hospital, a tertiary referral hospital in Lusaka. Over 1,200 new doctors have graduated from the medical school since the first cohort in 1973 and the school now delivers postgraduate training in areas including surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics & gynaecology, and public health, as well as training nurses, pharmacists, biomedical scientists, and physiotherapists.