Solwezi General Hospital Medical Superintendent, Kitanda Sondashi, says the health institution is unable to deliver some services paid for by the National Health Insurance Management Authority (NHIMA) because of lack of essential medical equipment.
Dr. Sondashi said the hospital has no computerised telescope scanning (CT) machine, x-ray machine and other essential equipment.
He said this when Labour and Social Security Minister, Brenda Tambatamba, whose ministry is also in charge of NHIMA, visited Solwezi general hospital.
Dr. Sondashi said many NHIMA members are complaining that the same services they get when they are out in other provinces are not available at Solwezi general hospital because of the lack of medical equipment.
“Many NHIMA members are avoiding coming here. They prefer going to private health facilities that are accredited to NHIMA where they have equipment,” he said.
He further explained that, “Here the machines are old and often break down…the last time we were lucky that Occupational Health and Safety Institute assisted us with an X-ray machine but they got it back again”.
He said Solwezi general hospital often refers patients to other health institutions such as Maryberg with which it has partnered.
Dr. Sondashi has since appealed to NHIMA management to consider investing in medical equipment and assist Solwezi general hospital.
And responding to the concern, National Health Insurance Management Authority (NHIMA) Board Chairperson, Richard Mwiinga, said the authority is already working on equipment investment policy which he said has reached an advanced stage.
Dr Mwiinga said the equipment investment policy will strategically target mainly provincial hospitals.
“As you have indicated in your presentation, there is equipment that has already been bought using NHIMA resources, but as you rightly put it in terms of some equipment like X-ray, CT-Scan and big equipment, I think as a board what we are working on is an equipment investment policy which has already reached an advanced stage,” he said.
He said some provincial centres have CT scan which are, however , not working.
Dr Mwiinga said Northwestern Province is one of the provinces that have no CT-scan.
He said the issue of lack of equipment was receiving urgent attention, adding that the Minister of Labour and Social Security will next month launch a strategic plan which will have issues to do with medical equipment in hospitals.
“We are very alive to that fact and we have just come up with the strategic plan that will be launched by the Minister next month and in that strategic plan, we have got an issue to do with medical equipment,” he said.
Meanwhile Dr Mwiinga said NHIMA is working with the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (ZAMMSA) on acquiring equipment.
He said NHIMA is working with ZAMSA and the Ministry of Health to identify the equipment that is required in all the centres within the country.