Author Archives: jgalloway

Where the Environment and Business Collide

Delegates concluded their study tour to South Africa and Zambia with a visit to the Lilayi Elephant Nursery in Lusaka. Sponsored by Game Rangers International (GRI), the nursery rehabilitates baby elephants that have been injured or left orphaned due to elephant poaching. GRI works with the local community to show the value of environmental tourism and engages in interdisciplinary capacity building to help protect the endangered animals. Many in the local area haven’t always seen the value of these majestic animals as they can damage crops or hurt people, but GRI is finding mutually beneficial ways to interact with and encourage participation from the community in managing Zambia’s vital, internationally important ecosystems.

Baby elephants at Lilayi. Photo credit: Brigid Boettler/MSH.

Baby elephants at Lilayi. Photo credit: Brigid Boettler/MSH.

History of Poaching
Since the early 1900s, the demand for ivory has decimated the elephant population throughout Africa as ivory is seen as a coveted status symbol and some cultures consider it to have healing properties. In 1800, the elephant population numbered more than 26 million but by 1979, there were only 600,000 elephants left roaming the continent. While a 1989 international ban on ivory sales led to a rebound in the population and a decline in poaching, pressure from Asian and southern African nations led to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species sanctioning sales of ivory in 1999 and 2008. Since then, the elephant population has started to decline again as poachers continue to kill and demand from regions like Asia has led to a soaring price for ivory, even surpassing the price of gold. The animals’ slow reproduction rate cannot keep pace with the ivory demand and escalating poaching practices.

Although it had previously banned hunting elephants in 1982, Zambia permitted elephant hunting in four Game Management Areas (GMAs) from 2005 until 2013. The loosening of hunting regulations in GMAs combined with the recent upswing in poaching threatens the elephant population in Zambia.

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Orphaned elephants get their 11:30 feeding from their keepers at Lilayi. Photo credit: Cate Sadler/Delegate.

Negative Impacts of Poaching
Poaching has taken a staggering toll on the elephant population, environment, and economy of Zambia.  Tourism in Zambia focuses heavily on the country’s natural wonders, including its safaris and wealth of wildlife. As Zambia’s travel and tourism sector continues to grow, the rapid decline of the country’s elephant population will affect this rising economic sector as ecological tourism will decline with fewer and fewer elephants to see.

Poaching doesn’t just affect Zambian tourism and the elephants. Rangers, anti-poaching advocates, and wildlife conservation staff lose their lives every day across Africa, from Zambia to Sudan to Chad, as they work to protect elephants and other wildlife from poachers. Additionally, while it may seem harmless to all but the elephant to purchase ivory goods, the sales from these goods fund more than the poachers themselves. Militant groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Sudan’s janjaweed, garner income from poaching and reports have linked terrorist group al-Shabaab to poaching profits.

The experience of visiting Lilayi Elephant Nursery, hearing from GRI staff, and seeing the orphaned elephants firsthand reinforced the devastating and heart-breaking impacts of elephant poaching, both in Zambia and throughout Africa. Delegates were exposed to the dangers poaching not only poses to the elephants, but to local communities, game rangers, economies and global security. Thankfully, there are organizations like GRI who work tirelessly to protect the elephants and prevent poaching but more work is still needed to prevent these majestic animals from extinction.

Recap: Day 5 – Thursday, February 19

Today the delegates traveled to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.  As one of the fastest growing cities in Southern Africa, Lusaka offers an expansive display of both the commerce and government sectors in Zambia.  The delegates learned more about national and community development projects in Zambia through meetings with key Zambian and United States government officials.

The delegates began their visit to Zambia by visiting the US Embassy in Lusaka, where they gained a deeper understanding of the role of US health and foreign assistance in Zambia.  The delegates met with the US Ambassador and representatives of US government agencies, including the USAID Mission, CDC, Peace Corps, and Defense.  Through these meetings, the delegates discovered how the different agencies coordinate and engage in Zambia’s health and development. Furthermore, the delegates learned more about the progress and challenges facing Zambia’s health systems.

Next, the delegates met with the Zambian Minister of Health and Permanent Secretary to better understand the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) priorities and health policy objectives.  Following their meeting at the MoH, the delegates met with the Permanent Secretary and Ministry of Community Development, Mother & Child Health (MCDMCH) representatives to learn about MCDMCH priorities. As the implementation arm of the national health system, MCDMCH plays a vital role in health systems delivery. Through these meetings, the delegates gained insight into the perspective of the Zambian government as a health system implementer and key policy initiatives related to the national health system.

The day concluded with a dinner and discussion with the Directors of the MoH and MCDMCH.  The dinner roundtable discussion centered on technical issues, including disease surveillance, human resources for health, and maternal child health in Zambia.

Welcome and About the Tour

Next week, Congressional staff will gain first-hand exposure to the local impact of U.S. funded health capacity strengthening in South Africa and Zambia during our study tour.  During the trip, MSH will display local health capacity building through pharmaceutical management and technical and managerial development opportunities for local health workers.  During the week, delegates will visit sites, meet with local health leadership, and participate in panel discussions with local experts that will highlight how international development funding, local government-led initiatives, and programs initiated by local partners have led to better health outcomes for communities.

The delegates will gain an in-depth understanding of the pharmaceutical supply chain and management mechanisms by visiting regional and local pharmaceutical procurement and distribution centers.  Visits to Mokapane hospital, the Limpopo Pharmaceutical Depot, the Tshikuwi Clinic, loveLife support site, and Medical Stores, LTD., among others, will give staffers deep insight into the on-the-ground implementation of pharmaceutical management and civil society engagement in health programs.   Delegates will learn about the implementation of the Pharmaceutical Leadership Development Programme (PLDP), Community Service Pharmacist program (CSP), RxSolution, and other pharmaceutical management and capacity building programs implemented through the USAID-funded, MSH-led Systems for Improving Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program and Building Local Capacity for Delivery of HIV Services in Southern Africa (BLC) Project.

As middle income countries, South Africa and Zambia offer a unique perspective into the impact of health systems strengthening and the increasing capacity of the national ministries of health to manage health delivery systems.  One of USAID’s largest health programs takes place in South Africa and focuses on leadership, governance, and capacity building.  South Africa showcases a growing network of civil society and local governments, as well as significant health initiatives, including National Health Insurance.  Additionally, South Africa has become a model of decentralization in the health sector, providing staffers an opportunity to explore the unique benefits and challenges posed by decentralization.   Zambia is at a critical stage of its development as it establishes its footing as a lower middle income country while taking on additional country ownership efforts in the health sector.  Staffers will learn the challenges in building health systems in a relatively weak national health system with major deficits in its healthcare workforce and infrastructure.

Stay tuned throughout the week to learn more about the study tour, capacity building, and pharmaceutical management as we post daily recaps, blogs, and photos.