Friday, April 07, 2006

Update on free health care in Zambia

Proving once again that no good deed goes unpunished, rural Zambian hospitals have already been hit by waves of patients looking for the free treatment promised last week by the national government. Perhaps the announcement should have been made after some of the 4 billion dollars received from debt relief was first invested in health infrastructure in rural areas. After all, it is all fine and well to promise free health care in a country where there is only one doctor per 14,000 people. But for the moment, it seems the Zambian rural health care system is not yet overwhelmed, if only because the rural population has not yet caught wind of the news that free health care is available. So the Zambian health system now finds itself in a race against time, having to scale up stocks of medicines, hire more health care staff and invest in new medical equipment. Still, it is a better situation than before, where the poorest in Zambia would not even bother trying to access the most basic health services.


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