JAPAN has given Zambia a total of US$17 million to upgrade two more clinics into district hospitals in Kitwe and Ndola on the Copperbelt under the Japanese Grant Aid Project.
The upgrade of the two clinics brings the number of health centres upgraded by the Japanese to seven at a total cost of US$42 million.
The two health centres to be upgraded to district hospital status are in Chamboli Township in Kitwe and Mushili Township in Ndola.
This was disclosed during the signing ceremony on the amendment of the grant agreement and exchange of notes for the project between Zambia and Japan held at the Ministry of Finance in Lusaka yesterday Zambia was represented by Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane, while the Japanese ambassador to Zambia Takeuchi Kazuyuki signed for Japan.
Mr Kazuyuki said the additional funds provided under the grant would further improve health centres on the Copperbelt.
“Once this project is completed, citizens of Ndola and Kitwe will directly benefit from the improvement of health services in densely populated areas such as the two districts.
“It is yet another significant initiative by the Zambian government to effectively overcome the challenges arising from medical problems such as HIV/AIDS and lifestyle related diseases like hypertension,” he said.
He said the project also aimed to strengthen Zambia’s health system and enable the government to deal with infectious diseases.
The Ambassador added that Japan has been providing grant aid to multiple sectors in Zambia and this would continue through bilateral avenues.
JICA Zambia chief representative Norihito Yonebayshi said upon completion the health facilities should be able to conduct caesarean operations and other specialised medical services to the communities.
He said the grant aid project would be implemented based on the experience of past and on going grant aid projects, like the upgrading of Lusaka health centres to district hospitals.
Under the Lusaka project, Chawama, Matero, Chilenje, Kanyama and Chipata health centres were upgraded into general hospitals.
Dr Musokotwane expressed gratitude to the Japanese government for the continued support towards the efforts that the Zambian government was making to uplift the health and living standards of people.
The Minister, however, said there remained constraints in the sector such as inadequate and obsolete medical equipment and supplies and long distances to health centres.
“The lack of first and second-level public hospitals in Kitwe and Ndola districts has put pressure on the existing third-level hospitals such as Kitwe Teaching Hospital and Ndola Teaching Hospital due to great demand for basic medical services.
“I am confident that through the upgrading of the two health centres to district hospitals, the Zambian government and you as our supporting partner will make a real socially desirable impact on the health of the Zambian people in Chamboli and Mushili,” the Minister said.