Building on Breathe Life into Chitambo!

by Jo Vallis in Zambia

Total raised £6,986

raised so far

+ est. £1274.00 Gift Aid



We want to build on our successful oxygen pipeline appeal through renovating maternity and paediatric facilities to match the new equipment.

by Jo Vallis in Zambia

We're still collecting donations

On the 9th November 2021 we'd raised £6,501 with 82 supporters in 56 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

Building on our 'Breathe Life into Chitambo' Oxygen Pipeline Appeal

We successfully  Crowdfunded for £6,000 to build an oxygen pipeline for a remote bush hospital in Zambia.  See ORIGINAL  BREATHE LIFE INTO CHITAMBO PROJECT below.

Now we are building on that work to improve hospital facilities in line with the super new equipment. 

We are keeping this Crowdfunding portal open for donations to our ongoing work to renovate maternity and paediatric wards at Chitambo Hospital and  build a Mothers Waiting Shelter, for antenatal mothers, at the hospital. 

1. Renovating  maternity and paediatric wards:

The new, Scottish Government sponsored oxygen generator and the additional oxygen pipeline, provided by Friends of Chitambo and First Aid Africa, are wonderful.  However, they are being installed in a very old, under resourced hospital, which is in urgent need of renovation.

Please see Dr Jackson Phiri, District Health Director's account of this: HOSPITAL RENOVATIONS

In particular, he highlights the need to refurbish maternity and paediatric wards, including renovating the dilapidated shower and toilet facilities, and sluice rooms; providing new beds, mattresses and other essential medical equipment; and replacing roof beams which have been badly eroded by termites.

See pictures below:


Old historic hospital building, unchanged sine 1953


Cramped corridors

1648153699_renovations_12.jpgDilapidated shower facilities


Dilapidated sluice facilities


Dangerous, eroded roof beams


Lack of basic equipment


Facilities in poor repair

Estimated costs: 769,175 Zambian Kwachas/£32,706

2. Building a Mothers Waiting Shelter for antenatal mothers

Linked to the above renovations, is the urgent need to build a  Mothers Waiting Shelter (MWS) for expectant mothers.

This will enable them and their helpers to lodge at the hospital in the weeks prior to delivery, instead of making the hazardous journey to the hospital when  in labour.  Too many Chitambo mothers still suffer birth complications as a result.  See this link to maternity statistics: CHITAMBO MATERNITY STATISTICS

Currently, Chitambo Hospital has only one maternity ward which houses both pre and post natal mothers, contributing to cross infection of newborn babies and mothers with open wounds.  Around 20 expectant mothers are admitted at any one time, leading to overflow from the small maternity ward.  Some mothers are, therefore, boarded out to other wards, such as male and female surgical wards. This can be both inappropriate and contributes to congestion of those wards.

A 40 bed MWS has been proposed and architect plans have been provided:


This shelter will house both expectant mothers and their accompanying helpers or 'bedsiders' in the last few weeks before delivery.

Estimated cost of building a MWS (before the pandemic): 723,993/£30,800

NB. Costs may have escalated since the onset of the pandemic and other global pressures.

With your help, we will stretch our original 'Breathe Life into Chtambo' project target (£6,000) to £65,000 to cover these joint, Ward renovation and MWS costs.


Breathe Life into Chitambo (our successful Crowdfunding project)

We are Crowdfunding for £6,000 to build an oxygen pipeline for a remote bush hospital in Zambia. We worked in collaboration with Chitambo Hospital, Scottish Government, First Aid Africa (FAA)... this.  

Imagine you’re facing the coronavirus pandemic without oxygen.

That’s how it is for the people of Chitambo District, Central Province, Zambia.  The 100-bed Chitambo District Hospital serves a poor rural population of over 100,000 in remote villages, some over 100 miles away on very bad roads.  The hospital has strong Scottish links through Scottish missionary and explorer Dr. David Livingstone, who died nearby in 1873.  The hospital was founded in his memory in 1908.

Chitambo District is currently being hit by a deadly third wave of the pandemic.  

Even Senior Chief Chitambo IV, direct descendant of the Chief who welcomed David Livingstone, has died of the disease and several key hospital staff, including medical licentiates, laboratory staff, and nurses, became infected.  Some were very ill and isolating for a full month.  One has or even becoming severely disabled, most likely as a result of covid-19.

The under resourced hospital is struggling to cope. Here’s what hospital staff say:

"The Covid situation is very bad amongst us here.  A number of cases have tested positive and are being admitted, needing oxygen.  Cases continue rising in the community, even in children as young as 10. They are just being managed at home." Mr Francis Zombe, FoCH Trustee/ Theatre Nurse

Covid comes on top of an already fragile health system and Francis adds:

“We are overwhelmed with road traffic accidents plus Covid 19 cases.  We had a big bus accident nearby and many passengers sustained fractures and traumatic amputations.  We had a tough time working with them, and creating space between them and Covid cases.”

Through FoCH’s influence, Scottish Government is donating an oxygen-generating plant to the hospital (pictured below).  This kit costs around £150,000 and is coming all the way from Germany.  What a fantastic, life-saving gesture at a critical time!1648150997_oxygen_generating_plant.jpg

Chitambo Oxygen Generating Plant

To make the plant safer and more effective, a pipeline is needed to take the oxygen from the plant to the patients’ bedsides. This costs an additional £14,000.  Our small, Scottish/Zambian registered charity, Friends of Chitambo SCIO is collaborating with a bigger NGO, First Aid Africa, to meet this cost.  Our share is £7,000.

Our Zambian-based Trustee, Karen, has raised the first £1,000 through a sponsored bike ride on her husband's farm in Lusaka, Zambia (pictured below).


Karen Edwards, FoCH Trustee/Organiser



Please help us raise the remaining £6,000.  Any surplus will go to building a much needed shelter for the oxygen generating plant to protect it from dust and rain, and to refurbishing office space from which to monitor oxygen usage and sales.  These are vital developments that will enable the oxygen-generating plant to run as efficiently as possible and ensure value for all partners, especially Chitambo Hospital and the local community.  Please see Francis's video above for details.

About us:

Who we are:

We are a small, Scottish and Zambian registered charity responding to community-driven health needs in Chitambo District, Zambia.

Our overall vision is for ‘a healthier Chitambo District’.  On this, we work closely with our local partners and strive to meet their needs through fundraising for key projects.

We are deeply rooted at Chitambo through our charity Chair and Founder, Dr Jo Vallis, whose father and grandfather were Church of Scotland missionary doctors there.  Jo grew up at Chitambo and is passionate about helping the hospital, especially during the current third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.  She first got the idea back in 2003, when she revisited the hospital with her family.  It was so like going home and the needs were obvious and urgent.  Friends of Chitambo became a registered charity in 2012 and a Scottish Incorporated Charitable Organisation (SCIO) in 2014, in order to qualify for Scottish Government grant funding.   We are now fully also registered as an organisation in Zambia.

Our dedicated team is equally split between UK and Zambia and includes several well-qualified health professionals.   See our website: 

Friends of Chitambo SCIO website:

What we do

We’ve done a lot in terms of pandemic response including responding very quickly with PPE supplies, at the start of the pandemic; reinforcing these supplies and adding oxygen equipment during the 2nd wave; and lobbying Scottish and Zambian governments to provide substantial, sustainable oxygen equipment and supplies for the foreseeable future.  .

In addition, we have worked on emergency communications, nurse training; ambulance maintenance; and emergency and maternity care.   Our website tells the story of our work in more detail.

The Oxygen Pipeline is our top fundraising priority at present.  It will help Chitambo survive the pandemic through safe, effective provision of oxygen direct to the patient's bedside. This move is greatly welcomed at Chitambo as Zambian health staff say:

“This is lovely...I can only imagine the lives that will be saved with this equipment.” (Information Officer)

“This is such heartwarming and exciting news!  Thank you FoCH.” (Doctor)


To acknowledge your contributions, we are offering several unique rewards related to our project:

  • Everyone     pledging £25 or more will     receive a virtual certificate acknowledging their contribution, and     a photo of a plaque we will erect in Chitambo Hospital
  • The  first 6 to pledge £50 or more will     receive a jar of Wainright Zambian Forest Honey, donated by Tropical  Forest Products: Tropical Forest Products:
  • The  first 6 to pledge £100 or more will     receive a choice of 3 books generously donated by women authors   linked to Zambia     
  • The first 2 to pledge £500 or more will     receive Tickets for 2 to the newly refurbished David Livingstone Birthplace Museum, Blantyre, Scotland:  David Livingstone Birthplace Museum 

Supporters abroad, who fall into these categories but are unable to access these particular rewards, will be offered alternatives.

Please help us reach or exceed our £6,000 target.  You’ll be saving lives.  

Thank you for your support.  Any surplus we raise will go towards building a secure, dust free shelter for the Oxygen Generating Plant and refurbishing an office from which to monitor oxygen production and sales.  This will cost an additional £12,000, of which we expect to pay a portion.  If, by any chance, these costs are covered by other groups, your money will still go to good use on contributing to our other projects such as plans to build a Mothers Waiting Shelter for pregnant mothers at  Chitambo Hospital.  We will inform you if we make such changes.

See some more images of our work:


Chitambo Hospital, Zambia


Jo, our Chair/Founder


Image 1. More oxygen cylinders are needed


Image 2.  Some oxygen equipment we provided


Image 3. Some PPE we provided


Image 4. PPE en route to Chitambo Hospital


Image 5.  Pregnant mothers waiting to deliver at Chitambo Hospital


Image 6. Student nurses we support with scholarships


Image 7.  Ambulance we support with annual maintenance and fuel


Image 8. Trauma and First Aid training we have provided to Chitambo health staff

Video: The emergency radio network we provided


This project offered rewards

£250 or more

Tickets for 2

Tickets for 2 adults to the newly refurbished David Livingstone Trust (DLT) Birthplace Museum, Blantyre, Scotland: By kind donation of DLT. Plus afternoon tea at the time of your visit, sponsored by FoCH

£25 or more

Virtual certificate and photo

Everyone pledging £25 or over will be emailed a certificate acknowledging their contribution to the Chitambo Hospital oxygen pipeline, plus a photo of a plaque which we will commission to sit on the hospital wall.

£50 or more

Zambian Forest Honey

By kind donation of Tropical Forest Products... jar of exquisite Zambian Forest Honey from the miombo woodlands of North West Zambia.

£100 or more

Choice of book

By kind donation: 1. Davidson, Julie, 2013, Looking for Mrs Livingstone: About David Livingstone's wife, Mary Moffat. By award winning journalist/Friends of Chitambo Patron. 2. Mulala, Chengo, 2021, Katabole Village Folklore and Livingstone’s Epic Journey: Untold Stories of the 1873 Epic Journey: A Zambian girlhood memoir. 3. Currie, MA, 2011, Livingstone’s Hospital, the Story of Chitambo A history of Chitambo Hospital, Zambia

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