Ambulance aid for Zambian villagers

Levi Chifwaila with the Chitambo ambulance

Levi Chifwaila with the Chitambo ambulance

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A CHARITY founded by a missionary’s daughter in Penicuik has raised thousands of pounds to boost medical care in the African village where David Livingstone died.

Friends of Chitambo Hospital has helped buy a new ambulance, reopen the nurse training school and sponsor nursing scholarships.

And now it is hosting a visit to Scotland by staff from the Zambian hospital who are hoping to set up an NHS 24-style emergency care hotline for rural communities.

Friends of Chitambo grew out of an earlier group, Penicuik for Africa, co-founded in 2005 by Jo Vallis, whose father was a Church of Scotland medical missionary in Chitambo, and Dr Neville Suttle, an agricultural scientist who lives Penicuik.

The group raised funds for medical equipment and textbooks for Chitambo Hospital, which had been founded in 1908 in memory of David Livingstone by the great explorer’s nephew, Malcolm Moffat.

A total of £30,000 was raised to buy a new ambulance, which was presented to the hospital to mark its centenary in 2008.

Ms Vallis said half the money came from Scottish doctors and nurses who had worked in Chitambo and the rest from the community in Penicuik.

The latest project aims to improve access to emergency care with a helpline linking the hospital to rural health centres.

A grant from the Scottish Government has enabled two Chitambo staff to spend three weeks in Scotland to see first hand how NHS 24 and other services work.

Ms Vallis said: “The hospital serves such a wide area with bad roads and poor communications. The idea is a small version of NHS 24 and a hotline to rural health clinics.”

Levi Chifwaila, senior nurse tutor, said: “There are a lot of medical emergencies. It’s heartbreaking to see the agony, pain and desperation both the health workers and members of our community go through. This project will improve communications and save lives.”