Our Lady’s Hospital, Chilonga


In 1956 the sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary started to deliver health care to the people around Mpika, being invited by the White Fathers, who started Chilonga Mission at the end of the nineteenth century (1899). The 40 bed rural health centre grew to a 182 bed second level hospital, which means it serves as a referral hospital for the Northern Province. A school of each, nursing and midwifery is attached to the hospital, and it participates in the training of clinical officers.

In 1997 the Zambian Congregation of the Sisters of the Child Jesus took over from the European Sisters and at present they are filling key positions in administration and accounts for example.

Due to the shortage of Zambian doctors and their unwillingness to serve in the rural areas, expatriate doctors have been contracted for many years, in last decades by Memisa (now CORDAID) of the Netherlands. At present there are two expatriate doctors (one Dutch, one Congolese) working together with two clinical officers, 34 nurses, five paramedicals and about 72 other members of staff in supportive services.

The hospital is owned by Mpika Diocese, proprietor is Bishop Telesphore-George Mpundu. First level activities are funded by Mpika district. The District Health Board is responsible for health activities in the district. The Central Board of Health approves the budgets and action plans of the Chilonga Hospital Board and the District Boards. But in 2000 only 30% of the actual needs of Our Lady’s Hospital were funded. Donor input remains of great value, financial wise and in various types of (medical) equipment and drugs.

Health problems and services:

The direct catchment area of the hospital has 162,000 inhabitants. To give an impression of the hospital activities, here an overview of some statistics of the year 2000:

  • 3,383 people were admitted in hospital and
  • 13,339 patients were seen at the Out Patient Department
  • 610 deliveries were done
  • 247 major theatre procedures and
  • 785 minor theatre procedures
  • Mother and child health clinics (mobile and at the hospital) were visited by 10,543 children under five year of age
  • and 3,209 ante-natal mothers
  • At the laboratory 18,841 examinations were done
  • 1,204 x-rays were made and
  • 1,384 ultrasounds done

Top five of diseases seen at the OPD consists of

  • malaria
  • respiratory tract infections
  • trauma (accident, injury, wound, burn)
  • substance abuse

For admissions in hospital the first two are the same, followed by

  • tuberculosis
  • anaemia
  • diarrhoea

For the first time in years, AIDS is now the number one cause of death in the hospital for adults, followed by anaemia, meningitis, tuberculosis and CVA (stroke).

For children under fives, for many years the number one cause of death is malnutrition, followed by anaemia (due to malaria), dehydration/gastro-enteritis, malaria and pneumonia.

The maternal mortality (deaths during pregnancy, illegal abortion, delivery) is among the highest in the country, meaning obstetrical care in the district can be improved a lot.

For the future, the hope is on the national malaria programme to decrease the numbers of malaria cases. Malnutrition, tuberculosis and AIDS get special attention as well.

Needless to say that a pandemic like AIDS, which has decreased the life expectancy at birth from 47 to 37 years within five years in Zambia, (compare The Netherlands: above 75 years) has huge socio-economic consequences for the communities, patients, members of staff as well as hospital management.