The COVID-19 pandemic has generally exposed glaring inadequacies in health care systems across the world. This development has once again highlighted the underlying importance of investing in health care infrastructure and human resource that is sufficiently equipped to provide adequate and quality health care services to the world’s population. It has demonstrated, without doubt, that ‘health is wealth’ and that there can be no properly functioning economy without a healthy workforce and a healthy consumer of goods and services. Simply put, without good health, human life could be lost at an unimaginable scale.

Never a time before in our generation have we witnessed humankind in all spheres of life, be it business, religion and politics come together to collectively galvanise their thinking, abilities, material and financial resources in a short space of time to fight a deadly disease with far-reaching social and economic impact.

Of note, however, is that long before the pandemic struck, some nations world over, Zambia inclusive, were on a steady path to transform their respective health care delivery systems in alignment with global goals and aspirations that call for the attainment of universal primary health care for all humanity.

In recognition and appreciation of the power of partnership in delivering transformative interventions, the Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc (CEC) has partnered with the First Lady of Zambia, Mrs. Esther Lungu, and her Esther Lungu Foundation Trust to provide medical equipment and supplies to some remote health facilities in the country. CEC has spent about K400,000 to source, on behalf of the Esther Lungu Foundation Trust, a container of medical equipment and supplies valued at K6.3 million from the US-based charity, Project C.U.R.E.

Not long after the shipment arrived in Zambia, distribution of the medical equipment and supplies to the beneficiary health facilities was flagged off at Kasisi Children’s Home on 14 November 2019 by the First Lady. Kasisi Children’s Home is located 37km on the eastern outskirts of Lusaka, in Chongwe District and houses a clinic which provides medical services to communities in the vicinity. Four other health facilities – one in Chongwe and three in Eastern Province; namely Nyamphande, Kalindawalo, and Mumbi rural health centres, all located in Petauke District were recipients of the support.

Chongwe District Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Kabungo, explained that as the country raced towards universal health coverage, a whole compliment of medical equipment was required to improve the health services starting from the health centre level, first level hospitals and all the way to tertiary level.

“This donation has come in timely and it will definitely make a lot of positive changes in our community. We have received quite a wide range of important equipment ranging from glucometers, which are used for measuring blood glucose for diabetes patients and are very vital. We have received some ultrasound machines, and all these are needed for timely knowing which ailments someone has and then move on to provide care for that particular individual”, Dr. Kabungo explained.

For Kasisi Children’s Home, establishing a new laboratory and clinic, which have been in the pipeline, was made easier with the donation of the equipment as confirmed by Sr. Mariola Mierzejewska, Sister in Charge at the Home.

“This donation really has special value for us because we are in the process of establishing a new lab and a new clinic, so these are the things we really needed. It’s like a gift from heaven. It’s enormous help because these are the machines which are not easily found here and are very expensive. Very often people have no money to go to hospitals for these special tests and here they’ll be able to come and get help without any payment or any charges.” Sr. Mierzejewska enthused.

CEC is a proactive social investor with a dedicated annual budget for social investment. A key sector the Company focuses on is health, where it is making interventions meant to improve the quality and availability of health care to the citizenry of Zambia. This investment in health care delivery is informed by the understanding that there is no better yield on social investment than that of a healthy, educated, and productive citizenry. The Company looks beyond its geographical operational borders when creating and delivering shared value to communities.

Managing Director, Owen Silavwe, explained that the Company sought to align its social investments to the government’s focal areas with regard to meeting the social and economic needs of the citizenry, hence, its partnership with the Esther Lungu Foundation Trust whose goals relating to improved livelihoods and enabling communities access quality health care were sharable with the Company’s philosophy.

“I think health remains one of those top needs of our country and in terms of development, I think that the country can only develop if its citizens are healthy. So, we recognise that as a critical factor in terms of moving this country forward,” said Silavwe.

According to the Ministry of Health, Petauke District has about 32 medical facilities most of which cover a population of over 10,000 people.

Petauke District Medical Director, Dr. Riches Siyabwalo, believes that one of the pillars in strengthening health systems is the availability of medical equipment in the facilities to improve the delivery of health services.

Chief Mumbi, who was among the traditional leaders that witnessed the donation, extoled the First Lady and her partners for extending support to his chiefdom.

“We are very thankful for everything you have done. At this hospital, we were lacking a lot of things. We had medicine shortages; we didn’t have enough space where our expectant mothers can rest but God has answered our prayers. We have seen that you have brought us a donation of K10,000 so that the resting shelter can be completed. We have seen an assortment of medicines that you have brought for us through your different partners. This is something that we are very grateful for with our thankful hands,” said Chief Mumbi

To aid mobility and enable the community health workers who volunteer at the health reach remote areas to deliver services, bicycles were also donated.

“We are very happy, especially for the donation of the bicycles, because we didn’t have bicycles to use to follow our clients in distant places. It is also hard to do our outreach and postnatal work because we only have one motor bike but with this donation of bicycles, our work will be a lot easier. We are also grateful for the beds and medicines. God should continue blessing these people,” Said Mary Khondowe, a community health worker.

Investing in people’s lives is not a once-off for CEC. The Company is known in its Copperbelt base and beyond as being genuinely interested in developing people and positively exposing the potential of communities because it considers its social and relationship capital as an important cog in the Company’s sustainable shared value creation.

As summed up by the First Lady, “partnerships are indeed inevitable in all areas of human endeavour because no one single person will be able to fulfil the needs of, especially, the needy in our country, so we need these partnerships. Therefore, the partnership with the Copperbelt Energy Corporation is a very important connection or relationship with the Esther Lungu Foundation Trust because it supplements the government’s efforts in trying to deliver health care services to its citizens not only in urban areas but also in the rural areas, for instance, in this remote part of the country because other people will not access these facilities if we are not reaching out to them.”

Event in pictures