Dr. Zachias Moonde Muulu

Dr. Muulu is currently in Israel to advance his skills in pediatric cardiac surgery!

  1. What’s your name and how old are you?

Dr. Zachias Moonde MUULU, age 36.

  1. Where are you from?

I'm from Zambia.

  1. What was your childhood like?

My childhood was good and I had a complete family. I am the second born with one older brother and 3 younger siblings. I feel like I had many balanced childhood experiences. 

  1. Why did you want to become a doctor/work in medicine?

My motivation came from my parents, who both worked in the health field as nurses. It was the first thing I was exposed to and grew to like. As I grew older, I felt compelled to help those affected by disease, and I made the decision to become a doctor, even though I had other options that interested me, such as religious activities or accounting.

  1. When did you know you wanted to go into medicine?

You need to find meaning in and love what you do; otherwise, it will be frustrating to compromise other aspects of your life for your career.

  1. Where did you study medicine/ what university did you go to?

University of Zambia.

  1. How long did you study?

I studied for 7 years.

  1. How did you choose your major/specialty?

I gave myself time to do my internship, so I could choose exactly what I wanted to do. I realized my strengths were in practical hands-on skills, and I love working with children because I find that they are more vulnerable. Most of the things they suffer from are beyond their control, so my heart went out to them. I combined these two passions and ended up choosing pediatric surgery.

The second reason was after my internship, I went to work at a rural hospital in a village and realized that specialized pediatric surgical services were absent in this area. People had to travel to the capital for such medical care. I felt like it was an area that needed assistance, and I am trying to fill in that gap.

  1. Were you always strong in the sciences?

I was not the best in sciences, but I was above average and always interested in them. I studied them not necessarily just for exams but for knowledge, and even after the exams, I would continue studying to gain a deeper understanding of the subjects and what I was doing.

  1. How did you do after medical school/training?

After completing my medical training, I worked at a rural hospital, conducted a few studies, and pursued a fellowship.

  1. Did someone ever tell you something specific that made you want to pursue medicine as a career?

My dad actually advised me to pursue something other than medicine, but I liked it, and it was a personal decision based on the exposure I had.

  1. Are pediatric cardiac surgeries performed at all in Zambia?

No, but now that one of the doctors from SACH, Dr. Ziwa, has returned to Zambia, he has started performing pediatric cardiac surgeries there.

  1. When did you hear about SACH?

I obtained most of the information early last year, and the majority of it was from Dr. Ziwa.

  1. How did you get to SACH?

I read about the opportunity to train another surgeon, and what was being offered at SACH was directly aligned with what I wanted to do. After finding out more information, I went through the regular process to pursue the opportunity.

  1. Were you always thinking of doing a fellowship abroad?

Yes and no. When I was considering what I should do, I initially wanted to specialize in heart surgeries. However, I had to adjust to the reality that such surgeries were not being performed in Zambia at the time. So, I thought I needed to consider something more feasible and decided to focus on general pediatric surgery instead. While I loved this field, my passion for cardiac surgeries remained strong, and I still wanted to follow through on that desire.

  1. How long will you be in Israel?

I will be in Israel for 5 years. 

  1. How does it feel to be in Israel for 5 years?

It has been so far so good. There are obviously mixed emotions, but the only downside is being away from my family for an extended period. Nonetheless, it is a positive and supportive environment, and the training process has been beneficial.

  1. What motivates you to train in Israel?

I grew up being deeply connected to my indigenous roots, so when this opportunity came, and it was tied to returning to my country after a certain amount of time, it felt perfect. One of the biggest reasons for embarking on this journey is my commitment to the well-being of Zambian children. I was already content with my work and being with my family back home, but this decision to pursue this opportunity is driven by a desire to fill in the gap and serve the children of Zambia.

  1. What do people think back home about you being here?

My family is very expectant and supportive of my decision, and my colleagues back home are equally excited about it. Many of them express a desire to have a similar opportunity and go through similar training, although some are still in the process of completing their post-medical training. The Ministry and the institution where I was working have provided sufficient support, and I am deeply grateful for their backing. I also acknowledge the sacrifice my family is making, as this journey is not only mine but ours together.

  1. Did you have any thoughts about coming to Israel before you arrived?

We learn about Israel from the Bible and a religious point of view, so I was incredibly excited to finally see the places I read about from 2000 years ago. Coming here offers a unique opportunity to merge the knowledge from my readings with the reality before my eyes. It's an experience filled with both awe and a deeper understanding of the history and significance of these ancient places.

  1. What is your hope for the future?

My hope for the future is that we can replicate the incredible work done by Wolfson for children, but this time in my home country. I envision a similar level of care and expertise being available to the children there, ensuring that they receive the best medical treatment possible without having to travel far from home. It's about creating a sustainable and life-changing impact right in our own community.

  1. Where will you work when you return home?

At the National Heart Hospital, which is only two years old, there are currently two cardiac surgeons, but unfortunately, none of them specialize in pediatric cases. As a result, children in Zambia have no choice but to seek treatment abroad, which can be challenging for many families. However, with Dr. Ziwa now back in Zambia, he will begin performing pediatric cardiac surgeries, which is a tremendous step forward. Once I finish my training here, I hope to join him in this important mission, so together, we can provide life-saving care to the children of our country right at home.

  1. Anything else you’d like to say about SACH/anything else you think I’ve missed about your story?

SACH is a significant answer to Zambia and brings tremendous hope for the future. I am deeply grateful for the fact that they are not only training an individual but an entire team. This approach makes a big difference as we work together as a cohesive unit before, during, and after surgeries. Seeing how well the team functions at SACH gives us a clear vision of what we hope to implement back home. It makes the transition and application of our training much smoother, ensuring that we can provide the best possible care to the children in our own country.