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Zambia's inadequate healthcare system has undoubtedly been compounded by its existing economic problems. Delivering quality healthcare services to those 11.5 million citizens spread out over remote, rural areas of Zambia has proven to be challenging, if not impossible for the Zambian government.
Zambia's first reported AIDS diagnosis in 1984 was followed by a rapid rise in the proportion of people living with HIV. Zambia, like most sub-Saharan African nations, struggles with the trilogy of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Dealing with this triad of infectious diseases is overwhelming, but attention and global funding from NGOs, governments and private philanthropy is at last flowing in an attempt to stem this tide.
It is apparent, however, that little of this investment has been able to penetrate through to impact and sustain basic levels of healthcare and health education infrastructure. Infrastructure is even more limited in rural areas and provinces (including Western province where OkaZHI is focusing its efforts), where one in five children does not live to see their 5th birthday. The enormous health needs in the country are compounded by inadequate infrastructure and a fundamentally inadequate number of health care professionals - or Human Resources for Health (HRH).
"Zambia has a dire shortage of health workers, with less than a third the doctor-patient ratio recommended by the WHO"
- Yakub Mulla, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zambia, "The Lancet," February 2008