(Hello Africa) Chinese firm eases access to health facilities for Zambian community

Source: Xinhua / Updated: 2021-07-22

The Marcopolo-Malcom Mini Hospital was under construction in Chilanga township, Lusaka, capital of Zambia, on July 16, 2021. (Xinhua/Martin Mbangweta)

Residents on the outskirts of the Chilanga township in Zambia are to have easier access to healthcare services thanks to a health facility that is built by a Chinese firm as part of its corporate social responsibility.

LUSAKA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Residents of the Malcom community on the outskirts of the Chilanga township in Zambia can now breathe a sigh of relief as far as access to healthcare services is concerned.

The residents, who used to walk eight km to access the nearest health facility now have their own facility thanks to the corporate social responsibility of a Chinese firm that is giving back to the community.

The Marcopolo-Malcom Mini Hospital, with a 20-bed capacity and five admission wards, has been constructed by Marcopolo Tiles Company Limited, a joint venture between Chinese investors and the Zambian government.

The residents are happy that their headache of walking long distances to access health care services is now a thing of the past.

The company has embarked on a mission to better the lives of about 566 households or over 2,000 residents of the area through the provision of various social amenities which were lacking.

"This has brought happiness to the residents of this area and we are very happy with what Marcopolo has done," Andrew Nkhoma, the chairman of the community told reporters who visited the area.

The company, he said, has brought development because apart from the health facility, it has also constructed a police post as well as brought water and electricity to the area.

According to him, plans were underway for the construction of a high school by the firm.

Tilile Zulu, a resident of the area says she is happy that a clinic has been built in the area as this will ease problems of accessing healthcare services for the people.

"We are very happy that they have brought a clinic nearby, they have really done a good job because we used bicycles to access the nearest clinic and wheelbarrows to carry the sick," she said.

Her views have been backed by Mary Daka, who feels that the move is a relief especially to expectant mothers and to those with children under five years old.

"We thank Marcopolo because now the distance is short. Even when a child gets sick at night, it will now be easy for us," she said.

Precious Nkole concurs and adds that reaching the nearest clinic was a challenge especially when it comes to transport.

"When you are pregnant, you will have to start putting aside some money for transport and the poor transportation system here worsened the situation," she said.

Construction of the health facility started in March this year and 95 percent of the work has so far been done, with the handover of the facility to the government scheduled for later this month.

Frank Mulenga, the company's chief financial officer said about 220,000 U.S. dollars have been invested in the health facility which also includes electricity connection as well as the sinking of a borehole for residents to have access to clean water.

The company intends to purchase equipment to be installed at the health facility at a cost of 200,000 U.S. dollars, he added.

He said corporate social responsibility is at the core of the company's investment hence the decision to embark on various projects in the community.

The company, he said, has been working in collaboration with the community who have provided the company with priority areas that require attention.

"We have been working with the leadership of the community before we do any projects. The priority areas are being given by the community and we are grateful for the support we have received so far," he said.

He confirmed that the construction of a school will commence next year and that the land has already been identified by the community where the school will be constructed.