Flying doctors need $36m to work

ZAMBIA Flying Doctors Service (ZFDS) board chairperson Dr Maureen Chisembele says the organization needs US$36 million to improve its infrastructure.

Dr Chisembele said the money would be used to procure four new aircraft of which two will be fixed and two rotary-winged.

Speaking when she signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Medical Stores Limited in Lusaka yesterday, Dr Chisembele said ZFDS only had a fleet of two aircraft to carry out multiple programmes and activities.

Dr Chisembele said many socio-economic, health and technological developments had occurred in the external environment hence the need for recapitalization and re-positioning of ZFDS in order to strength its capability to provide quality aero-medical services.

“ZFDS is a strategic institution, committed to supporting the vision of Government. We want to occupy the centre stage in the Zambia healthcare system by providing quality appropriate comprehensive primary and specialized outreach health services to underserved, hard-to-reach remote and rural communities of Zambia and emergency air ambulance critical healthcare services countrywide and the region,” she said.

Dr Chisembele said ZFDS was working towards increasing access to aero-medical services and playing a vital role in providing fixed wing and helicopter air ambulance service, air rescue, inter-hospital patient transfers, disease surveillance and timely responses to epidemic and disasters by rapid transportation of medical staff, medicines, supplies and other logistics, thereby saving many lives.

“We also want to increase our role in air medical tourism, aircraft lease and charters,” Dr Chisembele said.

She said investing in aviation infrastructure of ZFDS would ensure rapid responses and make a huge difference between life and death.

“We are advocating for upgrading of ZFDS and district airstrips/aerodromes and construction of helipads at major hospitals,” she said.

Dr Chisembele said the MoU would help collaborate and ensure timely availability of adequate, quality, efficacious and safe essential pharmaceutical products and equipment to any part of Zambia.

She said the MoU would improve the health status and general well-being of the communities by improving the availability of pharmaceutical products and equipment in hard to reach areas. And Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Peter Mwaba said Medical Stores Limited identified problems arising from distribution models at lower levels in the supply chain system, forcing the regional hubs to have been operationalized in Choma, Mongu and Chipata.

Dr Mwaba said MSL still had challenges in areas where it could not reach because of the road network, necessitating its partnering with the Zambia Flying Doctor Service.

In a speech read on his behalf by Dr John Moyo, Dr Mwaba said it was hopeful that the collaboration would ensure that there was timely availability of adequate, quality, efficacious and safe essential pharmaceutical.

“This partnership will indeed improve the health status and general well-being of communities in hard to reach areas by improving the availability of medicines and medical supplies in these areas,” Dr Mwaba said.