Zambia has socialized medicine. Usually medical care is dispensed at area hospitals, especially outside of the main city of Lusaka. Hospitals are dependent upon the government for medicine which is sent monthly. Additionally there are hospitals run by private organizations such as churches. Many villages have a building in them that are for clinics. But the clinics do not operate every day and they suffer from some of the same limitations as the hospitals with regard to available medications.
Medicine is available at the hospitals if they receive a supply from the government Ministry of Health. If medications are not available then they cannot be sent.
Within the hospitals there are often two clinics. One is called High Cost and the other Low Cost. The difference has to do with availability of medicines. If one has money then medicine is usually available at the High Cost clinic. If one does not have money then they go to the Low Cost clinic where medicine may or may not be available due to government supplies.
An additional challenge involves distance from the village to the hospital. The only way to get to the hospital involves either taking public transport (which costs) or to walk or ride a bike.
We began to take some rudimentary medical care into the villages through the local evangelist’s wife, Judith Phiri. She received training at the hospital that permits her to dispense some basic antibiotics and other medicines. We have added to that vitamins and pain reliever. To these we began collecting antibiotic ointment/cream, hydrocortisone cream, antifungals and eye drops here in the US. These are preferred because they are significantly more potent that similar medicines available from other locations. The later are contributed by congregations and individuals here and sent to Zambia.
A village is chosen and Judith along with several other women will set up under a tree or in a school on Saturday and begin to see people. In addition to medicine, they also provide counseling in various health care issues such as child birth and care and community health. Where it is needed they will send an individual to the hospital.
We are aware of individuals whose lives have been saved by use of some of the medicines sent. Villages will now request that our medical effort come to their village. Often there are more requests than can be satisfied. But, as long as funds and medicines are available we will continue with this effort.