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Protx
May
6
13

Lusaka Medical Services

Thirty years ago, shortly after the closure of the Zambia Medical Aid Hospital and other private clinics, one would not have imagined that one day we would have so many clinics and private hospitals in Lusaka that one would not know which to choose when feeling out of sorts. But this is the situation in which we find ourselves today and we can only thank those people who, despite opposition and even dire warnings from their colleagues, did what they believed was needed for the well-being and development of this country. Their contribution may not be acknowledged today, but they were true patriots.

But how does one go about deciding which doctor, clinic or hospital to attend? Perhaps one way to approach your search for a medical service is to focus on which specialist needs you or your family require. The aspect of specialist care was only one of the issues that guided the preparation of this article. We were also provoked by the many medical insurance schemes that are being advertised, indicating increased competition and a corresponding demand for private medical care.

A number of phone calls to the better known centrally located private medical clinics in Lusaka gave us a good idea of what you can expect. In general laboratory facilities are available and essential services such as x-ray and scanning equipment well provided for. Specialist clinics which were routinely mentioned included Gynaecology, Orthopaedic, Skin, Surgery, Neurology and ENT. I was advised by a manager from one of the leading clinics that GP coverage in the country is ‘not bad’ and that private testing facilities now cover almost all requirements with very few samples needing to ‘go down to South Africa’.

Some hospitals have been purpose built to deal with specific care such as the Zambia Italian Orthopaedic Hospital, but others offer a more general service, and these would include Care for Business, Hilltop Hospital, St John’s Medical Centre, Lusaka Trust and the Coptic Hospital which all have theatres. Some of the clinics surveyed also offer eye specialist and dental sections, an example being Teba Hospital, which will provide you with a full brochure of their services on demand.

When it came to costs, these varied widely. The biggest gap was seemingly between those clinics that had been set up to deal with mostly corporate clients, and those that were sponsored by faith-based agencies and do not cater for in-patients such as the Seventh Day Adventist Clinic. There are a series of physician owner-managed clinics where you are assured of dealing with your chosen doctor on a regular basis if that is your preference. Consultation here, like in all the clinics surveyed is offered either on a membership or walk-in basis. 

There are certain things to watch out for that often won’t ‘appear in the brochure’ and are important to take into consideration when making your final decision on a particular clinic. The ’24-hour’ sign is probably best remembered only in an emergency. In a non-emergency situation, you may find that this service is conditional: consultation fees may double if you arrive on a Saturday afternoon, specialists may charge separate fees for being called in on a ‘non-clinic’ day or may not be available, and the laboratory may not be open at all.

Balancing costs against convenience may tempt you to look at the added assurance of heath insurance, especially if you are thinking about employees. The medical insurance schemes known by this writer are MHS, PROMED and WANTHANZI. Take care to scrutinize the fine print to really know what they do and do not include, do not assume anything! What we gathered from a refreshingly upfront chat with Professional Life was that such insurance is usually offered to corporate clients only and for a minimum of 10 subscribers. The final premiums are decided after detailed negotiation with the insurers and collection of data with an emphasis on the ages of the individuals being covered. Invariably these insurance schemes will link you to their preferred clinics only and are currently not available for much less than a K 1 m per annum per person.

We did not get an answer by the time we were going to press on when a ‘clinic’ become a ‘hospital’ so you may notice that the terms have been used interchangeably in this article. We would have been required to write formally to the Medical Council of Zambia for clarification. For a full list of facilities with valid practising certificates you may write to: The Registrar, Medical Council of Zambia, P O Box 32554, LUSAKA.

Before concluding, we do need to mention the attitude of some of the clinics. When phoning for information, by many of the clinics, we were treated with suspicion rather than a welcoming and ‘what can we do for you’ attitude, although we didn’t have anyone ask us to ‘write a letter’ requesting the information, which is par for the course here. Sadly, world-wide, medicine has become big business and if these clinics wish to succeed, they need to ensure that their marketing people are on the ball. 

 

GETTING IN TOUCH! 
Care for Business 0211-255730
Coptic Hospital 0211-237584
Corpmed 0211-222612
Lusaka Trust Hospital 0211-252190
Mars International 0211-255941
Mutti Medical Centre 0211-227178
Seventh Day Adventist Clinic 0211-255169
St John’s Medical Centre 0211-261247
Teba Medical Centre 0211-291037
Zambian Italian Orthopaedic Hospital 0211-254601

Click the following link for a further list of medical providers from the US embassy's website in Lusaka.


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