By KAUSA MBASELA
First Quantum Minerals through Trident Foundation recently handed over hostels renovated at the cost of more than K800,000 to the Solwezi College of Nursing and Midwifery with Government calling for emergency, prevention and rapid response activities to be included in the training curriculum.
The renovated hostels were at a total cost of K876,000 and donated 56 bunker beds and 112 mattresses.
Trident Foundation Manager Joseph Ngwira did the handover ceremony to North-Western Province Permanent Secretary Col. Gladson Katambi in presence of Professor Roma Chilengi, Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) Director-General who is also Advisor to the President for COVID-19, Provincial Health Director Washingwa Tambatamba and Solwezi General Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Kitanda Sondashi.
Trident Foundation, which was currently sponsoring 19 students at the 1,134-capacity institution, hoped to increase the number to 30 by June this year. This was with special focus on the girl-child.
Ngwira revealed that this was done in line with the EDGE programme (educating and developing girls for empowerment) aimed at supporting and enhancing girls’ education and empowerment, particularly among less privileged ones from communities surrounding FQM-Trident operations. The focus was on building capacity and increasing access to education and training opportunities.
“You cannot support education minus supporting health. We value this and take it as a good opportunity for Government to appreciate this kind of collaboration. This donation signifies what we get when we work together through collaboration in the community.”
He implored Government to properly package collaborative projects with the private sector so that they are cross-cutting in terms of beneficiaries from the communities.
Ngwira further urged members of the community to take advantage of opportunities as the mine provides the economic engine that needed to be optimized in order to spur sustainable national development.
And Col. Katambi thanked the mine for the gesture as the training institute was in dire need of infrastructure development in order to be properly functional at full capacity.
“The college is still grappling with challenges of inadequate infrastructure such as lecture theatres, student hostels and classrooms, office space for lecturers, clinical instructors and library to accommodate 25 per cent of the student population.
“Kindly note that the college has a total of 1,134 students who cannot be adequately accommodated with the current infrastructure the institution has. This is why the institution has greatly appreciated the efforts made by the Trident Foundation Limited in renovating the School of Midwifery student hostels.”
The permanent secretary said Government was committed to supporting the health sector to ensure the availability of a well-trained, competent and equitably distributed health workforce.
He said this had been demonstrated by the investments made in the recruitment of new staff while strengthening nursing and midwifery education and practice; and embracing strategic partnerships with the community, local and international stakeholders.
Professor Roma Chilengi, Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) Director-General and also Advisor to the President for COVID-19, who thanked FQM for walking the talk in augmenting Government efforts to uplift the standard of life for Zambians in the company’s catchment areas and beyond.
“It is heartwarming to see such a gesture. This opportunity comes at great cost and amid competition for limited resources. Government has focused on partnerships with the private sector, looking at holding hands with the likes of FQM in order to better the lives of our people in communities and drive the development agenda of the country.
“Facilities such as this must be seen as a national investment to help service delivery in the health sector. The creation of an environment conducive for learning, as a result of the rehabilitation of the facility, should help students study well and optimize this privilege they have,” he said.
Dr Chilengi acknowledged the role nurses and other frontline health workers played in emergency, prevention and rapid response activities which resulted from the frontline field epidemiology training programmes.
He further called for the inclusion of such programmes in the in-house training of nurses and mid-wives in order to prepare graduates to mitigate emergencies as well as routine curative service delivery.
Provincial Health Director, Washingwa Tambatamba was elated that FQM decided to extend a helping hand to refurbish the hostels at the training institute.
“We are really happy that Trident Foundation chose to renovate this midwifery hostel for our students. Having colleges that train midwifery is important in ensuring the provision of maternal and child health services in the province,” she said.
Dr Tambatamba disclosed that “the province has five colleges of nursing with only two offering midwifery. This will beef up the number of locally trained midwives where there is a critical shortage of this specialization.”
With Solwezi General Hospital the only one in the province operating as a both a second and third level hospital, the need for qualified nurses and midwives was great.
“While it is desirable to have graduating students go to other parts of the country for work, we prefer to absorb most of them so that there are more locally-trained professionals right here in this province where they are critically needed,” she said.
The Provincial Health Director stressed that authorities were set to guarantee quality health-care service provision as evidenced by recruitment of 11,000 health workers last year, something central government intended to continue doing. That is why interventions such as the renovation of the hostels by Trident Foundation were greatly appreciated.
This was echoed by Solwezi General Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Kitanda Sondashi who extolled the work by the Foundation, urging other private sector players to emulate Trident and Kansanshi foundations for their work.
“Do not relent in helping to improve standards in the health sector as this will result in better performance by those involved. I call on others to follow suit as you continue with your Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives,” he urged.
And giving a vote of thanks, second-year student Faith Kamenga thanked the company for the scholarship programme, urging the mine to continue extending it to more girls in the local communities to enhance their chances of contributing to the workforce in the health sector.
From inception to date, Trident Foundation has conducted visible interventions that have enhanced the quality of education and skills development in its area of operation. In 2021, it requested a partnership with Solwezi College of Nursing for the girls’ education and empowerment. The Foundation asked to be given between 10 and 30 slots for girls to be trained at the school annually.
Solwezi College of Nursing And Midwifery was commissioned in 1988 with a vision to provide quality nursing education. The institution was accorded the status of registered nursing provider by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Zambia in July 2013, and in 2015 allowed to train registered nursing e-learning students.
In 2017 the midwifery in-service programme was introduced while the direct midwifery programme commenced in July 2018.
Beyond the work done through its Trident and Kansanshi Foundations on this project, FQM has been involved in the construction of five new schools.
The mine has further built 17 classrooms at four existing schools, 18 staff houses with five in progress, fabrication and donated almost 10,000 desks to various schools within its catchment area.
Further, the mine has supported the education of differently-abled children alongside girl-children through programmes such as EDGE among others.
In 2021 the Levy Mwanawasa Medical University approved the affiliation and accreditation of the School’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Midwifery and Public Health Nursing in 2021 as a provincial hub.