Project Description

A commitment to developing essential medical and surgical skills

The Medical-Surgical program has delivered a range of health care training for Zambian doctors, nurses, clinical officers and medical licentiates living in rural and urban areas of Western Province. Where possible, courses draw on existing curricula and resources, and new modules are developed where a need is identified.

In conjunction with the Canadian Network for International Surgery (CNIS), the Essential Surgical Skills course was initially delivered in 2009. Subsequently, this course has been repeated, in addition to providing training courses in Inguinal Hernia repair, Non-Communicable Disease, Intensive Care, and modified Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

This is OkaZHI’s longest standing program. Through cooperation and support from training in the Medical-Surgical program, Zambian health professionals have reported being able to offer to their patients better quality of care, reduced referrals, reduced infections, reduced hospital stays, better long-term prognoses, and decreased mortality rates.

Previous Work: 

  • Built a collaborative relationship with the Canadian Network of International Surgery (an international NGO committed to sharing knowledge, expertise and experience to promote lasting and sustainable improvements in health and safety in the developing world)
  • Developed and delivered an additional physician training courses and concurrent nursing courses, with the guidance and support of the Zambia Ministry of Health and regional hospitals.
  • Nearly 100 Zambian health professionals from Western Province attended Medical-Surgical training courses -53 nurses, 25 physicians, 5 medical licentiates, 9 clinical officers.
  • Three nurses worked on the surgical ward at Lewanika General Hospital and jointly implemented a fully functioning Post-Anaesthetic Recovery Room.
  • Established linkages with other Canadian players working in Zambia, including the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research and the ‘Zambia-Canada Research Partnership’

Future Work:

  • A ‘Train the Trainers’ program to support continuing medical-surgical education, while also devolving greater responsibility and ownership to Zambian practitioners.
  • Continue refresher courses that briefly recap on old lessons and then build upon prior knowledge.
  • Increase practical learning through a mentorship program; Canadian representatives working alongside Zambians on real patients over an extended period of time.
  • Consider extending and embedding training programs to other institutions, such as medical and nursing schools in Zambia.

What Positions we are currently seeking:

To support a permanent presence in Western Province (by rotation), we are recruiting across disciplines in following fields;

Medical: Primary Health Care, Health Promotion, Non-Communicable Disease (Diabetes, Hypertension, Cancer, Respiratory), Critical Care, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology.

Surgical: Orthopaedics, General, Anaesthesia and Advanced Cardiac Life Support programs.

Program Lead: Jessica Barker

Any questions, comments and inquiries regarding this program can be sent to

of the patients referred to the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Lusaka have advanced disease.
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Before the essential surgical skills training we had some basic knowledge but after the training we perfected our skills, like tying the knots, suturing, operating on wounds… We realized that even the post wound infection cases have dropped. The skills that we have acquired have really helped us and we are seeing the results.

After attending the [hernia] course I have now performed 60 hernias! Before I was not competent, I was either postponing or referring most of my patients. Two months ago I was able to remove an ovary that weighed about 5 kilograms. It was very, very big and now the patient is fine actually. What made this possible was the confidence and the competence that every doctor who attends this course will develop



Okazhi’s mission is carried out by the hard work of our volunteers and we are always looking to expand our team worldwide. Although we are recruiting healthcare disciplines, we are also in great need of all professions and skillsets to achieve our mission.