Over 50% of healthcare facilities in Zambia have no access to power, drastically limiting the quality of healthcare that can be offered. Many do not even have basic lighting, meaning nurses are often forced to deliver babies using the torches on their phones and are unable to carry out simple diagnostics.
On Call Africa aim to improve quality of care at rural healthcare facilities in Zambia through the provision of solar power. Through this work we aim to contribute towards the evidence base for future government adoption of solar power in healthcare facilities, and for how these systems can be sustained through existing community structures.
The SIRHES project’s focus is to improve the functionality, quality of care and hygiene in 3 rural health systems in Kazungula District, through the provision of solar power, alongside complementary health interventions that utilise power.
Over the last 16 months we have:
- Equipped 3 rural healthcare facilities with solar power to suit current and future needs
- Trained 82 Neighbourhood Health Committee (NHC) members to support health facility and community initiatives that promote health
- Installed 1 solar powered Chlorine Production Unit (CPU) at Kazungula District Health Office, which will support the monthly production of chlorine for disinfectant for 27 healthcare facilities and water purification for 5 target communities
- Supported Kazungula District Health Office to develop a business model for the CPU generate income from chlorine production to support project sustainability and to support NHC identified activities.
- Supported the formation of the Kazungula District Technical Working Group for oversight of the project and long term support of the chlorine production.
- Coordinated the operations and maintenance training of health care facility personnel and community members, which is key in making sure the solar systems are maintained properly and are sustainable for the community.
- We coordinated training to increase knowledge in Hygiene Behaviour Change (HBC) among Neighbourhood Health Committees (NHCs) and Community Health Workers (CHWs) in the three facilities we work in.
We expect the project to improve the quality of services provided at three rural health facilities, and the overall functioning of the health system that surrounds those facilities. We also expect to see improved hygiene at facility and community level, and improved function of the community structures that work within the health system at community level. We hope that these complementary programmes will lead to improved health outcomes, such as:
- Reduced maternal mortality
- Reduced neo natal mortality
- Increase in number of patients accessing the facility
- Decrease in facility acquired infections
- Improved infrastructure
- Improved medical equipment and an increase in supplies
- Increased community confidence in healthcare services
- Improved level of care being delivered
Successes to date
Through the programme design process we recognised that the success of the project relied heavily on the contributions and functionality of the NHC groups in the community. However, NHC groups in these community had limited understanding of their roles. To address this, our team adapted the programme to include NHC training to support NHC members to better understand their roles.
We are already seeing NHC groups playing a more active role in shaping their own health services. At Siakasipa Rural Health Post this led to NHC members mobilising the community to construct a mothers’ shelter for the facility.
“We were trained by On Call Africa, on our roles and responsibilities as NHCs. Concerning matters of reporting, we never used to do this as communities. As at now, we know how to formulate action plans, we know how to report to the health facility on a monthly basis, based on the training we undertook with On Call Africa. This has helped us greatly as a community. This has also brought in a lot of vigour to us as NHCs.”
Kelvin, Vice-Chair Person, NHC, Siakasipa Rural Health Post
For more recent stories and news about what we are up to at On Call Africa click here