Revived ZFDS to enhance rural health delivery
Published On April 17, 2023 » 1017 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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. Dr Nguni

By GIVEN CHIKEWU –
WITH its headquarters in Ndola, the Copperbelt Province’s capital, the Zambia Flying Doctor Service (ZFDS) is poised to become a leading health services provider in the rural parts of Zambia.
In 1965, Dr James Lawless thought of the concept of aviation -based medical services and founding President Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s government made ZFDS a state run organisation by an Act of Parliament two years later.
In fact, Dr Kenneth Kaunda became the first patron of the institution, which became key to the ministry of health’s provision of aero- medical care to hard-to-reach remote areas, mainly in the northern half and several other places across the country.
During its infancy, the medical services also operated at Mwenzo Mission near the border with Tanzania where Dr Kaunda’ s father first worked as a missionary in the early 1900s .
Today, Zambia Flying Doctor Service (ZFDS) uses aircrafts which can cover long distances in a short period of time, landing at airstrips, which it has also been mandated to construct in remote areas.
Authorised to use and maintain aircraft, ZFDS is also mandated by law to create health centres, install and operate high frequency (HF) and very high frequency (VHF) radio communication equipment at health facilities.
To enhance service delivery to the rural parts of Zambia ZFDS recently unveiled new employees.
Zambia Flying Doctor Service chief executive officer George Nguni recently unveiled new personnel that joined the service during a Press conference held at the service’s headquarters.
He told journalists that human resource that was unveiled will cushion the existing gap in the service.
Dr Nguni said Zambia Air Force (ZAF ) had been an all-weather friend to have sent four pilots bringing the total number to six pilots in the service.
“We have an aircraft that has not been in use since 2017,the engine was sent to South Africa to be overhauled. I can confirm to you that it has been worked on and we are going to South Africa to get it so that we can have two aircrafts flying around these far places,” He said.
He highlighted that Zambia Flying Doctor Service was created by an Act of Parliament as a state-run institution and has mandate to supplement government efforts in the provision of proper health care in rural areas and hard-to-reach parts of Zambia.
“These two aircrafts will help us to send multiple teams for outreaches and medical evaluations and in order for us not to depend on other people to call us for emergency, we want to be proactive and follow our patients in rural areas.” Dr Nguni added.
Dr Nguni further explained that Zambia Flying Doctor Service is poised to implement an operation to restore rural health centres which will take off in less than a week’s time in four provinces.
He added that the operation will target to provide health services to more than 3000 people in rural areas on a daily basis and over 100,000 on a yearly basis.
The Zambia Flying Doctor Service chief said the service will be sending four dedicated teams led by specialised doctors to do outreaches.
Dr Nguni disclosed that the first four provinces earmarked for the operation will be Western Province in Lukulu district to treat cataract diseases which has gripped the area, Kaumbwe district in Eastern Zambia to treat malaria, Muchinga Province in Isoka district is earmarked to treat escalating rabies cases owing to dog bites and Copperbelt Province in Masaiti district to treat Malaria and the operations will be rolled out in other provinces.
Zambia Flying Doctor Service signed a memorandum of understanding ( MOU ) with the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) to supplement with human resource in terms of pilots and and engineers.
The Zambia Air Force will also be responsible for the maintenance of the institution’s fleet to ensure it adheres to international safety and operating standards.

•A ZFDS staff member attending to a patient in Masaiti District on the Copperbelt.


ZFDS which is being rebrandedseeks recapitalisation to reposition itself asan efficient and effective aero medical service throughout Zambia by 2030.
According to Dr Nguni the company will seek to combine old and new trends in health service delivery.
He said the company had also altered its aviation services, requiring the addition of helicopters because they are handy in the evacuation of patients with maternal cases in regions with vast water bodies such as Luapula, Northern, Western and North-Western provinces.
The re-introduction of the Zambia Flying Doctor Service and its rural health centres is a very important move and is in line with the call by President Hakainde Hichilema for improved rural health care delivery in the country

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