June 5th, 2009

Lusaka 2: brands.

Although I heard that Zambia is a poorer country than Kenya, there was a surprisingly upscale strip mall attached to the hotel where we were staying in Lusaka. This is what the entrance to the movie theater looked like:

Nearby were several fast food places.

In Kenya I had seen a brand called "Chicken Inn", often next door to "Pizza Inn" and "Creamy Inn", which sells ice cream:

A close imitator in Kenya is the "Kenchic Inn":

Well, it turns out Zambia has "Zamchick":

Not to be outdone, some beef producers chose the brand "Zambeef". EXCELLENT MEAT.

Lusaka 3: malaria medicine.

On our first day we visited the National Malaria Control Center. We're trying to understand some of the problems they face in stocking and distributing malaria medicine.

This is a truck outside of Medical Stores Limited, which is the storage and distribution company that the government contracts to distribute all medical supplies. We were particularly interested in the antimalarial drugs and rapid diagnostic tests for malaria, but these were only a tiny part of what MSL stocks and ships.

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside MSL.

Lusaka 4: wacky bank machines.

The craziest thing happened when I went to use an ATM at the strip mall on Tuesday evening.

The starting screen looked like this:

After I put in my card, it asked me for my PIN as usual:

But after I logged in, this was the screen that appeared!

I couldn't resist pressing the "ADJUST CASH" button to see what would happen. Here's what it offered to do:

I decided that going further might get me into trouble, and hit the CANCEL button.

This was entirely repeatable. I did it again to take these pictures. And then I tried an ATM at a different bank and it did exactly the same thing. I found a few other confused people wandering from ATM to ATM, wondering why they weren't working properly.

I wonder how long it took the banks to figure out that something was wrong.


We spent our third day in Zambia touring health facilities in the Mumbwa district. On the way there, we passed little settlements along the highway.

Unlike in Kenya, the extremely poor here built their structures out of plain sticks, or bricks (in the background). I didn't see much corrugated metal for walls. Perhaps bricks are easier to get here for some reason.

The square dirt huts were still common, though.

This is the administration building of the main district hospital for Mumbwa.

Here's the sign for the hospital, in front of the stores building.

Inside the stores, the stock levels of supplies were tracked by hand using the green bin cards you see here.

There was a large supply of antimalarial drugs in this particular store — but it was all about to expire in the next two months. (After manufacturing, the drugs last two years.) Most of it would go to waste, since it can't be returned to the central stores within six months of expiry.

These were in the parking lot outside. I'm told the hospital does have another working ambulance, though.

We also visited some rural health clinics, which were much smaller. In one of them, all the supplies were kept in the head nurse's office. In all of them, the supply of antimalarial drugs was incomplete — they were out of stock in at least one of the four doses, which meant that they would have to break pills in half or combine pills to produce the correct dose. Despite having incomplete stock, the stock in the other sizes was also within a month or two of expiry.

In this particular district, these situations were probably not life-threatening concerns, because the malaria burden was quite low here. But it was still worrisome how much medicine would be wasted, and how poorly the stocks were maintained.

I didn't get any photos in the rural clinics because my camera's battery ran out.

Leaving Lusaka.

We left Lusaka and returned to Nairobi yesterday.

This place has quite a few interesting birds. I caught this stork landing on a billboard.

Here it is walking over to join its pal.

We got stuck in a long traffic jam on the way to the hotel. Whenever cars are stopped, there are lots of people walking around trying to sell you all kinds of stuff.

The work part of my trip is over. Tomorrow, I start a safari in Arusha, Tanzania! I expect to have Internet access less often or not at all, so you might not hear from me for a while.