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By Sepo Mwikisa


The management of burns patients not only requires the physical aspect of care but involves tending to the psychological care of both the patients and their caregivers.

Burns patients are at a substantial risk of contaminating their environment with organisms which may spread to other patients admitted in the same ward. Aside from this, preventing infections in these patients is a big challenge as they are more susceptible to infections due to the loss of the protective barrier of the skin.

It is for this reason that medical institutions that are in frequent contact with burns patients require a burns unit that enables the staff to take care of patients in an environment isolated from other types of illnesses and bacteria.

At the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), burns patients are placed in Side wards adjacent to the main wards in the Surgical block which is one of the areas with the biggest patient population. The nurses in these blocks cater to both the patients in the main wards and side wards.

Currently paediatric and adult burns patients share the same wards as the department of paediatrics does not have burns wards with female and male children placed in female and male surgical wards respectively.

There is no exact estimate of the   number of patients’ received in these burns wards as the numbers vary from week to week. However, there is a notable increase in the numbers during the cold season, with some people accidently getting burned by braziers and boiling water. Another common factor amongst children as alluded to by one of the nurses taking care of paediatric patients is children getting burnt with hot porridge after accidently bumping into the pot (mostly common in families that use braziers to do their cooking).

With the ever increasing number of patients comes a need for expansion of certain areas and services and thus the need for a burns unit at UTH is clearly evident. The unit will not only help in decongesting the wards and reducing the burden of care on caregivers, but will ultimately affect the management of these patients as they will have a team of staff dedicated solely to the care and rehabilitation of burn patients.

The skin, which consists of two layers is the largest organ of the body and some of its important functions include; preventing entry of bacteria and other harmful environmental agents, a function carried out by the upper layer known as epidermis; regulating body temperature, storing water/fat, preventing water loss, and aiding as a sensory organ, which is all carried out by the lower layer (dermis). When the skin burns, all these functions are interrupted and this means a person is at risk of catching infections.

Burns can be classified as first- degree, second- degree and third –degree burns. The extent of damage to the skin in these burns vary with first degree burns affecting the upper epidermis, second degree burns affect the entire epidermis, including a part of the dermis and third degree burns affecting both areas completely.

In an ideal situation, burns patients are placed in separate rooms according to the extent of their injuries. Consequently, the unit requires specialized medical staff that are well equipped to take care of these patients. This is especially important for patients with severe burns who are need of enclosed bed spaces to guarantee that they are physically separated from other patients. The separation of patients helps immensely in the reduction of cross infection from their fellow patients and in the case of UTH cross infections from the main wards.

The John Hopkins Health Library asserts that burn patients need the highly specialised services of medical professionals who work together on a multidisciplinary team which includes, physiatrists, plastic surgeons, internists, orthopaedic surgeons, infectious diseases specialists, physical therapists, vocational counsellors, social workers, just to mention a few.

With psychological care being an important instrument in the recovery of these patients, especially in cases which involve considerably large amounts of scarring and disfigurement, it is imperative that children be kept in a child friendly unit separate from the adult unit which will helps make them comfortable in an environment that is very different than what they are accustomed to. Counselling is also encouraged for caregivers and this empowers them to be a pillar of strength for the patients.

The hospital has a team of staff from various disciplines that are responsible for the following; skin grafting which is the transplantation of skin from one area of the body to the damaged part; orthopaedic surgery for contractures, which occurs when a burn scar matures, thickens and tightens, therefore preventing movement; the physical rehabilitation of patients carried out by physiotherapists which help reduce contractures/gain mobility. The social work department also plays a pivotal role in cases involving families do not have the financial means to take care of their patients, including circumstances were signs of abuse and negligence are evident (most common in children and intimate relationships).

Plans for a specialized burns unit at the University Teaching Hospital are underway and this is a welcome initiative as it will be a great factor in establishing and improving the management of burns in the institution. Subsequently, it will create a huge platform for specialization and training of staff, but most importantly it will help save and restore the lives of patients especially those who may have burns more severe than that of others.

Sources: Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery. The pivotal role of nursing personnel in burn care. September 2010.

www. infection control in burns patients. Retrieved on 6th June 2016 Encyclopedia Britannica, inc retrieved 6th June 2016

Dulner, J. E, Fetterman, A. Preventing Scars and  Contractures. University of Rochester Medical Center@ 2016 John Hopkins Medicine. Health Library. Retrieved on 6th June 2016

Indian High Commissioner to Zambia Visits UTH Tele- Medicine Centre

By Sepo Mwikisa

Technological advancements have made major contributions to the health industry and one good example of this is tele- medicine and through the efforts of the Indian government, the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) has been a beneficiary of this initiative for the last five years.

Recently, the Indian High Commissioner to Zambia Mr. Gaddam Dharmendra paid a visit to the hospitals tele- medicine facility in order inspect the site and needs to be addressed so as to enhance the success of this initiative which is fully funded by the Indian government.

University Teaching Hospital (UTH) Head Clinical Care Dr. Robert Zulu, Mr. Victor Kulukulu a Senior System Analyst the Zambia Ministry of Communication and the Zambia National tele- medicine coordinator Dr. Sydney Shampile were on hand to receive the commissioner.

During his visit, the high commissioner was able to interact with doctors and staff at the telemedicine centre. He expressed his satisfaction at the success of the program in Zambia and congratulated staff at the centre on their well-organized site maintenance and support.

Indian High Commissioner to Zambia Mr. Gaddam Dharmendra and UTH Head Clinical Care Dr. Robert Zulu interact with medical students at the UTH Tele- medicine centre.


Among the benefits of telemedicine is the elimination of distance barriers and improved access to quality health services, facilitation of patient and rural practitioner access to specialist health services and support, the avoidance of moving patients in emergency or critical situations, reduced cost and inconvenience of patient transfer including reduced travel time for health practitioners.

Plans are underway to include other areas in Zambia so as to exploit the full potential of tele- medicine and Mansa is to be one of the first towns to be integrated. UTH will serve as a hub and facilitator for these areas.

Dr. Zulu thanked the commissioner for his visit and encouraged UTH staff to utilize this service. He also explained that the hospital will also do its part in ensuring that the centre is made conducive for staff and other people that utilize the facility. It is hoped that a large number of medical staff can take advantage of this opportunity and maximize its full potential.

With the high number of patients flocking to UTH from all parts of the country, this initiative if used effectively will not only be a platform for the exchange of knowledge but will help decongest the hospital and save resources that can be channeled to other critical areas.



By Sepo Mwikisa

The Zambia Police Service (ZPS) on Thursday 2nd March 2017 donated a variety of food stuffs and carried out community service at the Lusaka Women and New-born Hospital mothers shelter as part of their commemoration of Zambia Police day which falls on 4th March, 2017 under the theme “Enhancing Professionalism and Accountability to Provide a Safe Secure and Peaceful Environment For All.”

Speaking at the event, Zambia Police Inspector General Mr. Kakoma Kanganja stated that the partnership existing between the ZPS and the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) cannot be over emphasized.

Zambia Police IG Mr. Kakoma Kanganja handing over part of the donated items to Lusaka Women and New Born Hospital SMS Dr. Maureen Chisembele. (Photo Credit: Timothy Malumo)


“As you are aware, Zambia Police’s constitutional mandate is to save life, as is the hospital’s whose mandate is to save people’s lives in general,” he stated. As such, the police service found it befitting to carry out community work at UTH; in particular, the mothers shelter.

The Inspector General stated that the Zambia   Police is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all through our partnership with the community which we serve.

Mr. Kanganja commissioning the community work (Photo Credit: Timothy Malumo)

Lusaka Women and New Born Hospital Senior Medical Superintendent (SMS) Dr Maureen Chisembele expressed her gratitude to the police service and encouraged other companies to emulate such efforts by coming forward to compliment the hospitals efforts of looking after its caregivers and patients as a whole.Police officers in action at the mothers’ shelter (Photo Credit: Timothy Malumo)

Police officers and mothers at the Lusaka Women and New-born Hospital (Photo Credit: Timothy Malumo).


By Sepo Mwikisa

Recently, the world celebrated World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March, 2017 under the World Health Organisation’s theme “Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment.’’ It is estimated that 360 million people in the world live with a disabling hearing loss and up to 5 out of every 1000 children are born deaf or hard of hearing.

Ms Bhavisha Parmar, a senior paediatric audiologist and volunteer from the charity SoundSeekers set up a stand on the day to disseminate information on the impact of hearing loss on children, management of ear wax, 6 steps to healthy ears and also provided free hearing screening. She reveals that during the screening process, 25 percent of those screened had significant hearing impairment which required further management.

Sound Seekers is UK based charity and currently has multiple projects in five African countries, with the overriding aim of helping deaf people to learn and earn. SoundSeekers projects focus on integrating ear and hearing care into existing healthcare systems, building human resource capacity in audiology provision and services, implementing early identification and intervention programmes, increasing awareness of primary ear and hearing care and improving access to education for those with hearing loss.

It is for this reason that Ms. Parmar is in Zambia and with the help of the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) staff and the Lusaka Round Table organization, to establish a paediatric targeted hearing screening programme at the UTH Children’s hospital, formerly known as the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Round Table No.15, a rotary club that has been in existence for over forty years built the speech centre in the 1970’s with the purpose of equipping the clinicians at UTH with infrastructure to carry out paediatric hearing screening and follow up intervention.