Rusangu Rural Health Centre is a grant-aided health institution of the Southern Zambia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Rusangu Rural Health Centre is situated at the far eastern side of the Rusangu Mission station. On its east side, it is bordered by a forest leading to the Magoye River and on to Chikonga Village. The western side of the clinic is the main Rusangu Mission station campus. The southern side comprises low veld grassland, while the northern side is the famous Tinti, a dambo forest that serves as a natural water reservoir for Rusangu University, Rusangu Secondary School, and other communities.
Establishment of the Institution
Rusangu Rural Health Centre started as a Rusangu Mission dispensary housed inside the school’s building to serve the pupils in 1940. In 1950, the dispensary was relocated to the east of the school grounds, which is also its present location. Robert Muunyu, a medical assistant trained at Malamulo Medical School in Nyasaland (Malawi), served as its in-charge from 1954 to 1957. From 1957 to 1959, Queen Brown worked as the nurse in charge. Ephraim Maswimbo, a medical assistant, joined Brown from 1958 to 1960. From 1959 to 1964, a state registered nurse was placed in charge of the dispensary because Rusangu Mission could not find its own staff replacement. From 1964 to 1966, the missionaries engaged the school boarding master to ferry sick students to Monze Chibuyu Clinic (now Monze Urban Clinic) and paid an allowance for the task assigned to him.
Elijah Pimpa, a medical assistant, was engaged by the missionaries in 1966. Before he could start work, a team comprising Pastor Job Mabuti, the field president, Pastor James Muyeba, Peter Malambo, and Pimpa met Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary (PS) Mashekwa Nalumango in Lusaka. The PS consented to have the clinic reopened only after informing the Provincial Medical Officer (PMO) in Livingstone.1 The PMO sent medical supplies and equipment (6 beds and medications) to the clinic. In the meantime, Pimpa left, and the missionaries engaged John Jamankala to work in Pimpa’s place.
From 1978 to 1987, Alvin Shimunzhila, Elizabeth Njoloma, and Violet Muhwanga joined the workforce at Rusangu Rural Health Centre. From 1995 to 1999, James Matesamwa, a clinical officer, was in charge, followed by Collins Lilembalemba, an Environmental Health technologist (1999-2004), and Mrs. Himbotwe, a registered nurse (2004 to 2005).
Starting 2005, Justine Muchanga, a clinical officer, was in charge of Rusangu Rural Health Center until a fatal road accident resulted in his death on May 16, 2023. He was a sixth-year medical student at Apex Medical University in Lusaka. He was succeeded by Ruth Tafeni Mutshiya, a registered nurse and acting in-charge.
In 2010, the South Zambia Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists applied to affiliate the Rusangu Rural Health Center with the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ). This reaffirmed the health center as a mission clinic. On June 23, 2023, The Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary officially opened a maternity annex which was funded by a non-governmental organization known as Water Aid, which also funded the water reticulation and waste management systems in the recent past.
Following the growth of the population being served by the health center due to the establishment of Rusangu University nearby, with an enrollment of over 5,000 students, Rusangu Rural Health Center’s capacity became inadequate. Other communities served by the clinic include Rusangu Secondary School, Rusangu Basic School, South Zambia Conference workers and their families, and the communities surrounding Rusangu Mission. Plans have been developed for its relocation and expansion. The Zambian government’s Ministry of Health, through the Monze District Medical Office, supports Rusangu Rural Health Center with staffing, medical equipment, medications, and monitoring.2
The annual average number of patients treated at Rusangu Rural Health Center is c. 10,200. The staff comprises one clinical officer, three nurses, and the supporting staff (a cleaner, a security guard, and a data clerk). The services provided by the clinic include mother and child health, family planning, antenatal, post-natal, ART services (a range of HIV services). Adolescent services include sex education, substance abuse prevention, family planning, and HIV testing. There is also an out-patient clinic. The common diseases treated at Rusangu Rural Health Center include but are not limited to the following: respiratory tract infections, skin infections, dental disorders, muscular-skeletal problems, and simple gastrointestinal maladies. Medical issues that cannot be handled by the clinic are referred to Monze Mission Hospital, situated about 15 km away in Monze town.
The plans for the further development of Rusangu Rural Health Center focus on achieving First Level Hospital status in the next ten years.4
R. M. Mote (1940-1941), I. B. Burton (1942), - (1943-1953), Robert Muunyu (1954-1956), Queen Brown (1957-1959), Ephraim Maswimbo (1960), school boarding master (1961-1966), John Jamankala (1966-1977), Alvin Shimunzhila (1978-1987), - (1988-1994), James Matesamwa (1995-1999), Collins Lilembalemba (2000-2004), Himbotwe (2004 to 2005), Justine Muchanga (2005-May 2023), Ruth Tafeni Mutshiya, acting in-charge (May 2023-Present).