Ensuring Zambian health care facilities have access to high-quality disinfectants

Empowering health centres to produce their own disinfectant

Ensuring reliable access to high-quality disinfectants is a priority for maintaining proper hygiene and providing safe drinking water in the country’s health centres. As a landlocked country, Zambia is reliant on imports driven from the ports in Durban, South Africa, the entry point for most goods, or Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for the vast majority of its manufactured goods, including disinfectants. This results in the following challenges for accessing disinfectants:

  • Transportation costs are high, making disinfectants prohibitively expensive, even for health facilities.
  • There is a risk that the disinfectants have been substantially degraded due to temperature variations, long transport times, and improper handling.[1]
  • Additionally, during the rainy season many of the roads in Zambia deteriorate substantially, thus further complicating logistics, especially for rural regions.

The lack of access to high-quality disinfectants is likely a main driver of nosocomial (hospital-induced) infections in Zambia, as in many countries throughout Africa.[2] Furthermore, the unreliability of the quality and quantity of disinfectants complicates water treatment, making it more expensive and more difficult to ensure adequate inactivation of microbes.

To address these problems, the government of Zambia decided to empower the country’s health facilities to produce their own disinfectants independently. The Antenna Foundation launched a pilot project with UNICEF to equip four Zambian health centres with WATA® devices to produce active chlorine (sodium hypochlorite solution at 6g/L of active chlorine) independently. The active chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water and serves as a general disinfectant for the health care facilities.

Scaling up the initial success

The pilot project was a success and in February 2016, the Antenna Foundation formed a partnership with Metmin Ltd, a Zambian-based company, to provide WATA® devices and certified training programmes to staff in another 51 health care facilities. In addition to chlorine production, Metmin installed an above-ground water tank and a chlorine pump to automate the disinfection of the health centre’s water supply. The rest of the chlorine is distributed to the different sections of the health centre to ensure that all staff have the proper amount of disinfectant to prevent the spread of disease and to ensure high hygiene standards in health care facilities.

  • 25 health facilities in Lusaka province and 30 health facilities in Copperbelt province received WATA devices and training.
  • 13 hospitals and larger health centres are being provided with a capacity of 120 litres per day, and, while 42 smaller health centres are provided with an active chlorine production capacity of 60 litres per day.

By December 2016, all of the health centres had been equipped and selected staff trained in the operation and maintenance of the chlorine production and water disinfection system. The Antenna Foundation provides continuous support to the health centres to ensure that the water treatment and chlorine production systems function smoothly. In addition, Antenna is currently searching for other opportunities and partnerships in areas where the WATA® technology can provide a unique solution for water treatment and disinfection needs. Both the Antenna Foundation and Metmin were present at the Zambia Water Forum and Exhibition (ZWAFE) held in Lusaka, in June 2017.

See the Antenna Foundation’s project with the Ministry of Health of Burkina Faso equipping health centres in the country with WATA® devices to improve hygiene in the country’s health facilities.

Number of WATA® devices: 55 WATA® devices delivered of which 13 are Maxi-WATA® and 42 are Midi-WATA®

Current beneficiaries: 55 health facilities which receive a combined 275,000 patients annually.

Partners: Metmin Limited, UNICEF, Zambia Ministry of Health & the Millenium Development Goals Initiative (MDGi)

Project duration: Programme design and implementation completed between February – December 2016. Since January 2017, Antenna Foundation is providing continuous support for the health centres and is developing related projects with other stakeholders.

Antenna contact: Jérôme Voillat,

Local contact: Deepak Meghrajani,


[2] The research on Africa-specific nosocomial infection rates is sparse, because determining the origin of an illness is a complex task that requires significant resources. The conditions of many of the continent’s health centres make it likely that this is an important cause of mortality and disease.