By Maiko Zulu
We have always stated that Zambia is not a poor country and that our poverty can be largely attributed to bad leadership. Again we are re-emphasise this assertion after watching Studio Ken featuring Edem Djokotoe’s inspirational but extremely heart breaking story about his struggle against colon cancer vis-a-vis the state of our medical facilities in Zambia.
It is a fact that the Zambian soil possesses numerous high grade minerals and other natural resources which are the envy of many countries including Copper, Emeralds, Cobalt, Gold and Mukula among others yet our clinics and hospitals cannot provide even a simple panadol for many. Our leaders have their medical files in Indian and South African hospitals whose governments have prioritised health not only for their people but also for rich politicians from countries like Zambia who have not prioritised their own health sectors and are quick to fly out to access better medical facilities.
While state institutions like the NHS (National Health Service) in England are known for landmark treatments of the citizens of the UK, our MOH (Ministry of Health) is more famous for corruption allegations, overpriced ambulances, theft of drugs and ferrying of personal furniture in ambulances.
From Edem’s traumatic experience, we have established that the mighty Zambia has no single state of the art PET (Positron Emission Topography) Scanning machine and so patients have to be referred to India or South Africa for scanning. This is an imaging test that helps reveal how your tissues and organs are functioning and such a scanner can be purchased at a cost of around $500,000 – $750,000. Now let us remember that our infamous 42 ‘wheelbarrows’ cost us $1m each ($42m), not to mention those ambulances that cost us $288,000 each. Let us also remember that we have bought one individual a private jet worth $138m from government coffers.
As International travelling is now restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the harsh reality of having to depend on other countries for everything can only be described as a death sentence to so many of our people who are in desperate need of medical attention. Think of that sick retiree who is languishing in Solwezi, Kaputa, Chama, Shan’gombo, Magoye or Kawambwa with no hope of recovery or that underpaid civil servant who has been diagnosed with cancer but has no connection in high places or hope of ever getting to India.
This too must change. Zambia is for all of us and not just for a few who have that ‘Get Rich Quick’ formula which the rest of the people don’t. You know yourselves.