Kitwe Central Hospital (KCH) is an entirely government funded hospital in the Northern, Copperbelt region of Zambia and is the only government hospital in the area. It is situated just outside the centre of the city, which is the second largest city in Zambia. It is adjacent to a large township, the population of which accounts for a large proportion of the patients. The catchment area of the hospital is large and it is a tertiary referral centre taking on cases from the smaller mining hospitals as well as local clinics. It is also one of three teaching hospitals in Zambia, taking on newly qualified doctors for their internships, as well as medical students and student clinical officers.
KCH is staffed mostly be locally trained staff, from Zambia along with the surrounding countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. However, there is also a number of ex-patriot medical staff. Kitwe itself has a large Chinese influence due to the mining in the area and there is an on-going programme of Chinese doctors paid by the Chinese government to work at KCH. There are a number of associated nursing schools in the area, which results in a large number of student nurses in the hospital. Departments include Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Ophthalmology Dentistry, ENT, Radiology, Pathology, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy and a Blood Bank. There is an Out Patient Department 1 (OPD1), which is basically the casualty department through which all acute patients are seen. The problems presenting at OPD1 include medical and surgical emergencies such as malaria, DKA and the effects of RVD (HIV), as well as traumatic injuries resulting from RTAs, assaults and industrial injuries. It also largely caters for the primary care needs of patients not met at the local clinics. The hospital also provides a high cost service with designated wards covering all specialties and a high cost clinic PAMSCO (Partnership in Medical Scheme with Communities).
Despite being a tertiary referral and teaching hospital, KCH is very basic. There are commonly problems with investigation equipment such as blood analysis and X-ray machines. There was no more advanced imaging available at anytime in Kitwe, and indeed there is no CT machine outside of Lusaka (the capital of Zambia). The hospital also struggles with a lack of pharmaceuticals, a lack of functioning surgical equipment and often a lack of basic supplies.
All specialties. Would welcome elective students, especially the surgical, medical, paediatric and Obs & Gynae teams.
The hospital is located in Kitwe, 350km north of Lusaka. It is easily accessibly via bus from Lusaka. The Mushandu Family bus company is the most reliable and has a good safety record. One way from Lusaka to Kitwe is 70,000 Kwacha (£8.60). A number of airlines fly into Lusaka, including Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines.
There is some accommodation on site, in the midwifery and nursing accommodation. This clean but basic (i.e. bucket showers), costing around £10 a day without food. You can also stay in the local area. There is accommodation available at a local orphanage (Funsani Hospice), where they are used to having elective students working at the hospital. They provide all food, clean and comfortable rooms, with cold showers. It costs £10 including food.
Very much dependent of visitor and how many departments you want to get involved in.
A visa is required for UK visitors and information is available athttp://www.zambiahc.org.uk/visa_requirements.html
I recently spent my elective period at Kitwe Central Hospital. I was mostly based in the outpatient department, which acted as a combined A&E and GP service. The department, which is split into surgical, medical, paeds and O&G, was extremely busy, seeing many patients with complex problems, as well as the more straight forward. The department is very under resourced and at times frustrating and challenging to work it. However, there were also moments of extreme satisfaction, when you felt you were making a real difference. We were involved in a range of cases, including multiple trauma cases, as a result of road traffic accidents.
On the whole you get exposed to a lot at KCH and are very much one of the team, and at times the team in its entirety. It can be distressing and emotional work at times, and there is not huge amounts of senior support available. I would recommend this placement if you are someone who really wants to get involved, isn’t afraid of hard work and is perhaps going in a group, as I found the support from my fellow medical students was not just invaluable but in fact imperative.
In terms of accommodation, have a look at furnished apartments in Kitwe as well as hostels, on-site accommodation through the nursing school and local charities that offer accommodation (e.g. Funsani Orphange).
Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions about this elective placement. email@example.com
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