Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chipata compound to have 1000 tested for HIV

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

As the world gears up to commemorate World AIDS Day, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Zambia (AHF) is targeting to test 1000 people at its commemorative event.

Under the theme, ‘Zambia at 50 towards zero stigma’, the commemoration will take place at the Chipata compound grounds on Saturday, November 29.

Photo / ITUC-CSI
AHF Zambia Country Programme Manager, Victoria Kalota said in addition to testing 1000 people, the event will also create awareness around HIV/AIDS stigma.

“Our target is to link 80 percent of all who test HIV positive to health centres for care and treatment. As we test and sensitise, we will also distribute condoms and refer all negative men for male circumcision, she said.
Joining the day’s event will be several AHF Zambia partners who will offer services such as circumcision, cancer screening, and general health related services.

The commemoration will start with a march past led by the Zambia army band and majorettes to the Chipata grounds. At the grounds the support group will sensitise people through drama performances, songs, dances and a football competition.

AHF global is also on a mission to extend access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) to 20 million people by year 2020. The  20x20 campaign will be highlighted by asking citizens to add their red ribbon of support to a pin board on Saturday.

The campaign challenges the current shortfall of treatment as currently only 12 million out of the estimated 35 million people living with HIV worldwide are on treatment. PYM



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I got circumcised to give my partner sexual pleasure

By Meluse Kapatamoyo
Health experts say Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision can reduce contraction of HIV by 60 percent. But despite the benefits, most men still shy away from the cut citing various reasons, among them pain during and after the operation. However, the belief that circumcision reduces sensitivity during sex, is responsible for much of the resistance.

So a challenge came through from one of my readers asking me to find a man who would be willing to speak candidly about circumcision. It took me a while to find someone who was ready to speak on the issue without 'hiding' under the name of anonymous. But one person was willing to share his story after reading my notice.

Here is my short interview with Innocent Matyola, aged 41, who got circumcised in 2009.

Pokeyourmind: What or who motivated you to undergo circumcision

Innocent Matyola
Innocent: It is something i had thought about for a long time. i decided get circumcised  firstly 
for personal hygiene, as well as giving my wife pleasurable love making.

Pokeyourmind : Pleasurable love making...does circumcision guarantee that, how?
Innocent : It does. It gives you endurance and confidence.  You do not get to experience premature ejaculation.

Pokeyourmind: Okay, but what about talk that it reduces sensitivity. Any truth in that statement?

Innocent : To some extent yes. But that also has a benefit in that reduced sensitivity guarantees your partner to have the much required orgasm. Too much sensitivity has always led to premature ejaculation.

Pokeyourmind : So, low sensitivity does not worry you?
Innocent : It always makes me feel I should as well work to satisfy my wife. As you may know and I should attest to the fact that men have always had to ejaculate even when their women counterparts were left unsatisfied. So it doesn't bother me at all.

Pokeyourmind : Okay. I guess she appreciates the sacrifice. Now tell me, did you have any fears or concerns prior to the operation?
Innocent : As a matter of fact I almost all the time wished I should have gotten circumcised. I had a habit of pulling my foreskin most of the time so I appreciated the idea before the operation. So for me it was something i looked forward to. Besides its a small operation which healed in two weeks but a few days after i was able to get round and do my normal errands.

Pokeyourmind : You hail from the Southern part of Zambia where circumcision is not commonly practiced. Do you openly talk about it and do you encourage men from your area to get circumcised?
Innocent : I openly talk about being circumcised and why i did it and the benefits and am proud to say, that a number of people i have shared my story with have gone ahead to get circumcised despite coming from Southern Province where this is not a common practice as is the trend i areas like North-Western Province.

Pokeyourmind : Do you have sons and if so are they circumcised?

Innocent : I do have sons  but they are yet to get circumcised but i intend to have them circumcised. PYM








    Tuesday, September 9, 2014

    Nominate your 2014 PEPFAR Champion

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo
    The Presidents Emergency Planfor AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Champions contest is back!

    Focus of the contest this year will be on people who have gone the extra mile to promote equal access to quality HIV services for all Zambians.

    "Information and interventions for HIV prevention and risk reduction remain unavailable for some marginalized groups in Zambia, such as persons with disabilities, sex workers, and prisoners.
    We could like to honor Champions who support PEPFAR’s public health approach by striving to reach the thousands of Zambians who are not able to access HIV services, “ says PEPFAR Development Outreach and Communications Specialist, Kathryn Koonce.

    Last year, 12 champions were crowned at the inaugural PEPFAR Champions Award Ceremony held at the luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel. 
    Among the recipients were; Colonel Daka, a Commanding Officer at Zambia National Service Camp in Kitwe. He is one of the first military officers to openly discuss his HIV status and currently  promotes counselling and testing among his troops.

    Sister Mariola Mierzejewska, sister-in-charge of Kasisi Children's Home. She and her staff are currently providing care and support to 250 orphans and vulnerable children, 60 of whom are living with HIV.
    His Royal Highness Chief Eshiloni Mumena from North-Western province, a powerful advocate of Voluntary MaleMedical Circumcision (VMMC).  In 2011 and at age 47, he underwent circumcision. Since his procedure, he now actively promotes the practice through out Zambia and in other Southern African countries.

    Renowned doctor, Mannasseh Phiri, one of Zambia's leading and outspoken HIV andAIDS activists. Apart from being a columnist and hosting  a radio show which tackles the complexities surrounding the disease, he addresses issues head on related to homosexuality, sex workers and gender based violence.
    Each champion was featured in a PEPFAR Zambia 2014 Calendar in addition to receiving a $1, 000 to donate to a local organization or community group of their choice.

    This year, to nominate your PEPFAR Zambia Champion, submit a written explanation of how the nominee is working towards equal and universal access to HIV services by email to or by mail to PEPFAR Coordination Office, RE: PEPFAR Hero Award, American Embassy, Ibex Hill, P.O. Box 31617, Lusaka, Zambia.

    Include specific information about how your champion is promoting equal access to quality HIV services for all Zambians including their work, success, and relevant background information. Please also include 2-3 high quality photos that demonstrate the impact they are making.

    The deadline is September 19, 2014.

    Champions will receive a cash prize for the community-based organization of their choice, will be featured in a PEPFAR Champions 2015 calendar, and will be honored at an event in Lusaka around World AIDS Day, December 1, 2014. PYM

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    DRW: Judicial System insensitive to mentally disabled persons

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo

    The Disability Rights Watch (DRW) has called on government to ensure that persons with mental disabilities are adequately represented in the courts to avoid them being detained unnecessarily.
    This comes in the wake of five persons with mental disabilities who were released from Chainama East Prison recently.
    DRW president Wamundila Waliuya appealed to the Legal Resource Chambers (LRC) to take up more cases for persons with mental disabilities who have been declared unfit to undergo trial.
    DWR President Wamundila Waliuya
    "Many need treatment and have been detained for many years in our prisons. The conditions under which they are detained are not pleasant at all. Today, many more are still in prison without a fair trial, and there is no one to stand for the protection of their rights when found guilty after a fair trial," he said.
    The Persons with Disabilities Act of 2012 states that the judicature shall take necessary measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal and effective protection and equal benefits of the law without discrimination. This includes persons with mental disabilities.
    It further states that where a person with disability is a party in any legal proceedings, the adjudicating body shall take into account the condition of the person with disability and provide procedural and other appropriate facilities to enable that person access justice and participate effectively in the proceedings.

    The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities indicates that “States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others: enjoy the right to liberty and security of persons; are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty”.
    Mr Waliuya added that “the continuous detention of persons with mental disabilities in prisons for long periods is in contradiction with international human rights law. An argument may be raised here that such people may be a danger to the community. This is a justifiable argument. It must however be realised that most of the people who commit crimes while in a state of mental crisis are usually triggered by social factors."

    He said it was the states’ and the citizens’ responsibility to ensure that factors that trigger mental crisis in persons with mental disabilities were controlled.
    "Steps should be taken to progressively develop community support services that will act as a measure to reduce mental disabilities. Such services include community based mental health services and community based rehabilitation. Families and communities should be educated on issues related to mental disability. "
    However, Mr Waliuya congratulated the High Court for its landmark decision to declare the long detention of five mentally disabled persons illegal.

    "DRW congratulates the LRC for representing the petitioners with mental disabilities. In our view, this is a landmark judgment which will build up the portfolio of judgments which promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The judgment has established precedence in Zambia’s jurisprudence."
    But he added, "in this case, the courts should now shape themselves to provide reasonable accommodation for persons with mental disabilities rather than detaining them for many years as they wait for psychiatry assessment." PYM


    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    UN global Message on Ebola Virus Disease

    Message from the UN Medical Services Division: Information on Ebola Virus Disease

    The UN Medical Services Division (MSD) has been monitoring closely the recent outbreak of Ebola virus diseases (EVD) in West Africa and is supporting the preparedness and response efforts of our UN health facilities in the affected locations.

    Treatment options within the affected countries for anyone who may contract EVD are likely to be limited, and medical evacuation capacities may be significantly disrupted.

    Therefore, it is recommended that travel on official business to the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea be restricted to essential travel only and that each travel request be reviewed on its mission criticality.

    For the most updated information and list of countries affected in this recent outbreak, please consult the World Health Organisation website at

    The following are some important points about the transmission of EVD and precautions that should be taken to protect yourself and your family. Individuals become infected when they have direct physical contact with the blood or body fluids of infected person or animal, or contact with contaminated objects.
    Persons who come into direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person at risk. To date, transmission among humans has been mainly due to caregiver family members or health care workers tending to the very ill or preparing the body for burial.
    A person can incubate the virus symptoms for 2-21 days, the average being 5 to 8 days becoming ill. THE PERSON IS NOT CONTAGIOUS until they are acutely ill.
    The virus is easily killed by contact with soap, bleach, sunlight, or drying. A washing machine will kill the virus in clothing saturated with infected blood or body fluids.
    As always, practice good hygiene and hand washing techniques at all times. Symptoms of EVD include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding.
    If you have recently visited an area where Ebola has been reported and feel sick with any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
    There is no licensed vaccine or specific treatment for EVD. PYM

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Zambian health minister outlines plans for Ebola

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo
    Zambia’s government has heightened it’s alert on Ebola which is spreading fast in West Africa’s, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Nigeria. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Ebola, a virus transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission, a "Public Health Emergency of International Proportions".

    According to a Health Advisory issued by  Minister of Health, Dr Joseph Kasonde, until further notice, the country is to ensure the following measures;

    1. All Zambians travelling from the Ebola affected areas will be thoroughly screened and quarantined if the risk is eminent upon return until further notice.

    2. All delegates from any of the countries affected by Ebola Virus disease are restricted from entering Zambia until further notice.

    3. All International events that may involve delegates from the affected countries are postponed, cancelled or such delegates excluded. The Ministry is advising against holding of all international events that lead to mass gatherings until

    further notice. This is because these mass gatherings escalates the spread of the

    disease and makes control difficult.

    4. Zambians and residents intending to travel to the Ebola affected countries on duty or business are restricted to undertake such travels.

    For further information or report any suspected cases, contact any of the following numbers:
    +26096684062, +26097742161, +26096277859, +260955411988 or email : info@moh .gov. zm  PYM

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    When breast feeding doesn't come easy

    By Kathryn Koonce
    Eli at one month
    Two weeks after my son Eli was born in February 2012, his doctor was concerned that he wasn’t gaining enough weight even though I was nursing him around the clock.
    I was exhausted, felt like a huge failure, and was getting pressure from all around to give up and use formula.
    The problem was that he was not latching correctly. He was doing “non-nutritive sucking” - he would stay at the breast for long periods of time (sometimes more than an hour) for comfort, but wasn’t taking much milk.
    I felt a surge of pain like lightening throughout my body each time he latched but I didn’t realize this was because he wasn’t latching correctly. Ultimately my supply went down and he wasn’t getting enough milk which made him very, very fussy. Our first two weeks together were miserable.
    Eli at 3 months

    I worked with a great lactation consultant and after three weeks of very hard work (charting Eli’s feeding schedule, expressing and nursing at least 12 times a day, and weighing Eli before and after feeds) we finally got back on track.  When he started to really gain weight and his thighs became soft and pudgy, I was a very proud Mama!

    When my daughter Naomi was born in December 2013, I was able to recognize when she was not latched correctly but I still experienced intense pain and even worse – mastitis (a breast infection that started with a clogged milk duct). I was so weak that I couldn’t get out of bed until finally I was treated with antibiotics.

    Naomi at 3 months
    But I recovered and things got much easier. My daughter will be eight-months-old on August 10 and I am still breastfeeding her even though I have returned to work.
    I was surprised that breastfeeding was so difficult. I thought that it would come naturally and easily immediately after my babies were born.
    I was also surprised by how down I felt when I wasn’t able to provide my son with the most basic thing that he needed. I want women everywhere to know that breastfeeding doesn’t always come easily. PYM

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Norvatis launches new coartem for malaria

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo

    Malaria accounts for more than one million deaths around the world each year. In Africa alone, it is estimated that a child dies every 60 seconds from malaria. Nine out of 10 of these deaths occur in sub Saharan Africa where the vast majority of malaria-related deaths take place in children.

    To address the ever growing cases of malaria, Norvatis has launched a new anti-malarial drug, Coartem® 80/480 (artemether/lumefantrine 80 mg/480 mg), for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in adults and older children who weigh above 35kg or above 12 years old.

    Models pose during unveiling of  Coatem 80/480
    In a bid to enhance patient compliance, the full course of treatment for malaria has been reduced from 24 tablets to six tablets translating into a 75% reduction in pill burden.

    Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Norvatis provides innovative healthcare solutions that addresses the evolving needs of patients and societies. 

    According to a statement from Norvatis, the drug has been registered by the Pharmacy and poisons board in Kenya and has already been launched in Nigeria and Angola. Kenya is the 3rd country in Africa to launch Coartem 80/480. Other countries that have registered Coartem 80/480 include Uganda and Ghana.

    The Coartem 80/480 was first registered in Switzerland by a stringent health authority, the Swiss Medic. Since 2006, Kenya has received over 75 million treatments of Coartem, making it one of the largest recipients of the drug.

    Dr Nathan Mulure/Photo courtesy of Novartis
    Dr. Nathan Mulure, the Novartis Medical Manager for Africa said, “Malaria is highly preventable and curable, yet it is still one of the most deadly diseases in developing countries. The fewer tablets offer a convenient solution for busy lives. The launch of Coartem® 80/480 in Kenya marks another milestone in the fight against Malaria, and will benefit patients with a convenient and high quality treatment for malaria.” 

    Novartis is the first company to develop a World Health Organisation (WHO) prequalified child friendly medication, the Coartem Dispersible.  Dispersible tablets easily break up in water, are sweet and easy to take. Since 2009, over 200 million dispersible tablets have been delivered the vast majority to African countries.

    Coartem is the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ACT (a combination of two or more drugs one of which one is an Artemisinin derivative) in the United States of America and the first one to be approved by the European Medical Evaluating Agency (EMEA). Artemisinin is a compound derived from the sweet wormwood plant and has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat fever.  Studies have shown that using two or more drugs in combination has the potential to delay the development of resistance.PYM

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

    Food Secure, but no nutritional security!

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo

    The Zambia Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN) has called on government to reform existing agricultural plans to increase their impact on nutrition by encouraging diversity in food production, aimed at improving the nutritional outcome of the population through maximizing the positive impact of food and agricultural systems on nutrition.

    CSO-SUN country coordinator, William Chilufya said the high levels of malnutrition in Zambia create an urgent call to ensure that investment in agriculture becomes a core part of the solution and preventive strategy by ensuring food is affordable and diverse.

    He said that although Zambia has over the past years achieved food security with its staple cereal, achieving food and nutrition security as recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other international agencies, still remains a challenge to the government.

    “A number of factors have resulted in a serious deterioration of food and nutritional security in recent years. In rural areas food insecurity is due to low productivity, limited access to agricultural services and resources, and over-emphasized production of hybrid maize at the expense of traditional crops. The excessive focus on incentives to produce Maize dissuades farmers from diversifying their cropping patterns. The lack of investment in the promotion of other sectors other than maize has resulted in limited crop diversification,” added Chilufya.   

    Among other things, the Zambian government has committed itself to reducing chronic undernutrition by 50 percent in the next 10 years, resolve the human resource and financial gaps in the 5 key line Ministries which includes Agriculture and Livestock. 

    Further, government will aim to increase nutrition budget lines by at least 20 percent annually for the next 10 years and also progressively encourage the involvement of the private sector to enable access to affordable and appropriate nutritious foods to mothers, children and other vulnerable groups.

    “When we think of food production, ecosystem, health and human wellbeing, one crucial element is often not mentioned: nutrition. Nutrition is everyone’s business and no one’s responsibility, as the saying goes. But we know that one of the world’s greatest challenges is to secure adequate food that is healthy, safe and of high quality for all, and to do so in an environmentally sustainable manner,” said Chilufya.

    Malnutrition is one of the greatest challenges facing Zambia today. Nearly one in every two children is stunted or small for their age. The country has one of the highest rates of stunting in children under five years old in the world. At 45.8 percent, higher than the 42 percent average rate for Africa, Zambia’s rate of child stunting remains higher than the vast majority of its neighbouring countries. PYM

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

    EMOC training; a must for health practioners

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo
    Midwives play a pivotal role in reducing maternal and child deaths. Unfortunately, inadequate numbers of these essential health workers remains a challenge in most health institutions around the country especially those in rural areas.

    However, some health centres like the Kalabo District Hospital located 70 kilometers from Mongu in Western Province are one of the few institutions lucky enough to have midwives to help with deliveries.
    Since graduating in 2012, 27-year-old Anifield Siandabile has delivered more than 200 women, helping fill the gap of midwives at the hospital.
    Anifield Siandabile
    In addition to training in nursing, in 2012, Anifield attended a three week course offered by UNFPA in Emergency Obstetrics and Neonatal Care (EMOC), a training he says has tremendously improved his trade and helped save the lives of pregnant women and their babies.

    The training covers the child, mother and all the complications a woman may face when she is pregnant, during labour and six weeks after delivery, a time when complications are most common.

    "On an individual level, compared to the knowledge I had before and after the training, I am on another level. It has helped me handle a lot of complicated cases that I would otherwise wait for the doctor to attend to, putting the life of the woman and her child in danger in situations when the doctor was unavailable. For example, in cases of prolonged labour, I am able to do various procedures without calling for a doctor,” explains Anifield.

    Almost two years down the line, Anifield recommends that the training should not only be restricted to midwives but be extended to all nurses and health care providers as they too encounter emergency situations involving pregnant women.

    “If the EMOC training is extended, I believe the country will see a further decrease in women dying from child birth because all health workers will be equipped and procedures to stop complications such as bleeding will easily be done.”

    He said due to various interventions such as the introduction of a Health Adversity Committee, which involves traditional leaders in issues pertaining to maternal health and the presence of an ambulance donated by UNFPA, Kalabo district hospital had recorded an increase in women delivering at the institution.
    According to the 2013 Kalabo District Medical Office Report on Communication for Development (C4D), although Kalabo district faces a challenge of low coverage’s when it comes to some Maternal and Child Health Indicators, institutional deliveries increased from 52 percent in 2012 to 64 percent in 2013.

    "With the health adversity team in place, the message is getting to women that when they fall sick, they should rush to the rural health centre and if the nurse available is unable to handle to the problem, the hospital then sends an ambulance is sent to bring the patient to the hospital. But I still emphasise that all health workers be trained in EMOC because sometimes the hospital has challenges with fuel, “said Anifield. PYM

    Friday, May 23, 2014

    Marking International Day to end Obstetric Fistula

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo

    Today May 23, marks the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula under the theme “Tracking Fistula – Transforming Lives. It is estimated that this condition usually caused by prolonged obstructed labour causing a hole in the birth canal, affects two million women and girls in developing countries.

    Speaking ahead of the commemorations, Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNPA), Dr Babatunde Osotimehin called on countries to take steps to prevent fistulas by addressing underlying medical and socio-economic causes, eliminating gender-based social and economic inequities, preventing child marriage and early childbearing and promoting education, especially for girls.

    He said while tracking and treating all fistula cases was crucial, eliminating the health crisis of obstetric fistula, requires scaling up countries’ capacities to provide access to equitable, high-quality sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and maternity care, especially comprehensive emergency obstetric care.

    "Obstetric fistula highlights persistent global inequalities in access to health care and basic human rights. Most women who develop fistula remain untreated for their entire lives, and the condition can easily recur in women and girls whose fistula has been surgically treated but who receive little or no medical follow-up and then become pregnant again.”

    To address the neglected health and human rights violation of obstetric fistula, ten years ago, UNFPA and its partners, launched the global campaign to end fistula. Since then 47, 000 women and girls have undergone fistula repair surgery. Partner organisations have provided treatment to many more women and girls living with the condition.

    However, much remains to be done, and more support and momentum are needed to enable the Campaign to expand its reach to all corners of the world where women suffering from fistula remain isolated and often unaware that treatment is available or even possible.

    “To treat fistula and provide women with follow-up medical care, we need to know more about how many women and girls are in need of services and also where they live. In most instances, stigma forces women living with the condition to remain hidden and isolates them from families and communities. By systematically registering and tracking each woman and girl who has or had an obstetric fistula, we can make enormous strides in improving their well-being and increasing the chances of their babies’ survival in subsequent pregnancies,” explain Dr Osotumehin. PYM


    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    Delicate answers to the indelicate question of low sperm count

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo

    As mentioned earlier on my facebook page, Pokeyourmind, I will be dedicating some time to following up on topics sent in by my readers. The subject below is one that has topped the list of requests sent in, not only by men but surprisingly by women too. I spoke to Dr Robert Mtonga on the topic ‘Low Sperm Count’ and here is what he had to say...

    Pokeyourmind: What is low sperm count?

    Dr Mtonga: It refers to the ejaculation of less than 15 million sperms per millilitre, (The normal ejaculate should contain at least 250 million sperms).

    Pokeyourmind: What are the causes?

    Dr Mtonga: There are many causes and these include pre-pubertal state( which refers to boys before they attain puberty), disease conditions e.g Sexually transmitted diseases, infections, abnormal growths in the tubes  that conduct sperms to the outlet, problems with sperm production and storage areas, failure to ejaculate, tumours, hormonal problems, certain medications, alcohol and tobacco use, industrial chemicals, stress and emotional problems, poor diet, stress, overweight among others.

    Pokeyourmind: What are some of the known signs that someone has a low sperm count?

    Dr Mtonga: Infertility is the obvious and commonest tale-tell sign. Definitively however, a man needs to have a special test known as Semen Analysis. Semen is the fluid that contains sperms.

    Pokeyourmind: Depending on results from the semen analysis, when can it be considered dangerous enough to warrant medical attention?

    Dr Mtonga: A sperm count of less than 15 million sperms is cause for worry if coupled with infertility. A result showing abnormally shaped sperms, less motile sperms, high fluid acidity etc. do not herald good news. Other relative indications that send men, sometimes with their partners in tow, include erectile dysfunction, pain on ejaculation, blood in the semen and trauma or surgery to the spermatic cord.

    Pokeyourmind: How does it interfere with one’s ability to make a woman pregnant?

    Dr Mtonga: A low sperm count does not necessarily lead to impotence but is one of the most common causes of it. Paradoxically a man need only one sperm to make a woman pregnant, but chances are greatly reduced with a low sperm count.

    Pokeyourmind: Can a man enjoy sex when they have a low sperm count?

    Dr Mtonga: Definitely.  A low sperm count does not interfere directly with enjoyment of sexual intercourse. A man who is losing sleep over a low sperm count obviously will not enjoy sexual intercourse due to psychological reasons.

    Pokeyourmind: What is the prevalence rate?

    Dr Mtonga: No research has been done in Zambia on the subject. Globally it varies from place to place depending on underlying factors.

    Pokeyourmind: What can be done to reverse this condition?

    Dr Mtonga: This depends on the underlying cause(s). The remedy ranges from behaviour changes such as reducing alcohol intake, losing weight, treating an organic condition, using medication to boost the production, corrective surgery etc.

    Pokeyourmind: What myths are associated with low sperm count?

    Dr Mtonga: These are many and include:- marital unfaithfulness, witchcraft and ancestral curses, weakness of the manhood, the wife is using charms, wearing tight pants, jealousy from rivals etc. PYM.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

    Qualifying exam results for nurses and midwives

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo

    The Zambia Nursing Council of Zambia (GNCZ) says a total of 978 out of the 1111 candidates who sat for the November/December 2013 Nurses and Midwives examinations passed.

    The 978 represented a pass rate of 88 percent, and 132 candidates could not make it representing a failure of 12 percent  said GNCZ registrar Universe Mulenga.
    The breakdown is as follows;

    Registered Nurses - 520

    Enrolled Nurses - 78

    Enrolled midwives - 20

    Registered Midwives - 234

    Registered Operating Theatre Nurses - 45

    Registered Critical Care Nurses – 34

    Clinical Instructor Nurses – 21

    Registered Mental Health Nurses - 26 PYM.

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    Can beads enhance libido?

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo

    Sexuality or lovemaking in humans is not just a primitive biological urge or instinct as in animals. It has developed to a much higher level. Many aids are used to enhance lovemaking such as using bikinis, powders, perfume and the like.

    In traditional society, the wearing of beads around the waist by women was said to enhance libido. Is this true or just an old-wives tale?

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Birth to wheelchair, the irony of childhood

    By Meluse Kapatamoyo

    I call it the irony of life. I am standing in between the car park at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH). On my right is the huge building housing the Maternity Ward, and on my left is a tiny building accompanied with a little billboard labeled APTERS. Trooping in and out of the Maternity Ward are mostly pregnant women and relieved faces of mothers with their newly born babies, filled with hope that their little ones will grow into healthy individuals.

    But when I walk over to APTERS whose acronyms stand for (Appropriate Paper Technology) and begin to shake hands with its Chairperson John Janes and Rotary Club of Lusaka President Zarina Geloo whose organisation has come to make a donation of wheel chairs, i quickly realise that although located within the same vicinity and both offering services to mothers and their children, in comparison, the maternity ward and APTERS couldn’t be more different.

    In the background of my hosts are several children, with their guardians who include men and women. It does not take one to be a doctor to realise that not only are the children mentally challenged, they are physically challenged too. I notice the anguish on one mothers face as she struggles to keep her daughter calm but I also see smiles begin to form as we walk towards the group.

    The maternity ward offers hope and dreams for expectant mothers. When their babies are born, they leave looking forward to a day when their child will start to speak, walk and jump around. Sadly, there are accidents during birth, perhaps genetic or biological makeup of young children that can result in permanent damage. The dream of seeing a child speak and walk may never happen because they are mentally challenged to process anything or their bodies are paralysed.

    For children and parents faced to live with this challenge, they turn to APTERS. Although the name does not give activities of the organisation away, it is here where the dashed hopes of mothers and children who walked out of the maternity ward several years ago are somewhat restored.

    According to the organisation’s Chairperson John Janes, APTERS is a small organisation of Zambians who manufacture mobility equipment for children who suffer from Celebral Palsy. The equipment includes walkers, tables and chairs, made from recycled material. The organisation also provides livelihood for Zambians who have in the past suffered from Polio.

    Each year, APTERS makes between 200-250 different items of equipment with beneficiaries coming from all over Zambia. “They filter through the system, through various clinics and end up here. The equipment helps both the children and parents have a higher quality of life and offer badly affected children an alternative to spending time on the floor. It also helps the parents and guardians who have the responsibility of looking after them especially when the children become too big for the mothers to carry them on the back,” he tells me.

    He says each year APTERS appeals to donors for support. The organisations support group also subsidizes the cost of each mobility aid as nearly all parents are unable to meet the cost themselves. The average cost of the items is K110. Despite running for 23 years, the project still struggles to meet its financial obligations, especially now that it has plans to expand.

    “Yes we have a few donors but it is always difficult to get donors on board. We were advised on the need to expand, so that we can modernize the old polio pool where we manufacture these items and have a bit more rooms so that there are better conditions for painting and cutting of the cardboards. We are currently working with Rotary Club of Lusaka and other donors so we can make a start on the slab and begin to extend our workshop, “Jones explained further.

    Rotary Club President Zarina Geloo seals the handover
    And in an interview after making a donation of nine wheelchairs and a K15, 000 cheque to APTERS, Rotary Club of Lusaka President, Zarina Geloo said, as a service organisation whose aim was to uplift the lives of vulnerable people, the club was keen to partner with organisations such as APTERS.

    “Where we do not have the expertise, we partner with organisations like APTERS, Who have the expertise, experience and are in touch with people in need to help us, help you. Hopefully we will be able to get some more (money) that will help with the extension of APTERS for the benefit of the organisation and for the benefit of the children who need it the most,” Ms Geloo said.

    When I finally got to mingle with the children and their guardians, they all could not stop thanking the Rotary Club. They shared with me how difficult it was to move around with the children from place to another. Even trips to the hospital for checkups and physiotherapy were a nightmare as they could not afford private transport. “With the wheelchairs, not only can we get them into a bus, we can now take them into town. Show them what they have been unable to see all these years. Let them feel like normal children,” they said in unison.

    For Mervis Chandwe, whose daughter Winnie, has just qualified to grade eight, the wheelchair may just save her job. “I have to take Winnie and also pick her up from school and to do this I have to get permission from my employers. I am often being accused of taking advantage of the situation because I have a child who is disabled. But the location of my job, Winnie’s school and where I live are so far apart but there is no one to take her or pick her up. At the moment, am not even sure if they will renew my contract. But this chair will help me move a little bit faster and hopefully save my job.”

    And an emotional Edna Bwembya who spoke in Bemba said, “I can never put it into words for you to understand what this wheel chair means to me and my son. He has Spinal Difida, the wheelchair I had got damaged and he had to stop school. He’s supposed to be in grade seven but he has not stepped into class this year. So you can imagine the joy I feel in my heart.”

    Saddled in his brand new wheelchair, her son, 13, Luckson who could not hide his joy and spoke fluent English simply said ‘Thank you for giving me this wheelchair. I was not going to school because I didn’t have a wheelchair, now I can. Thank you.”

    As we parted and said our goodbyes, I looked and captured in my mind the smiles on their faces, including that of their children, at least on those who could process what had just happened and what it meant. I wondered about the struggles, the parents and children would continue to face had organisations like the Rotary and APTERS not existed, but thank God they do and we can only say thank you. PYM