Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema on Friday called for concerted efforts to tackle rising cholera cases in the country, especially in Lusaka, the country’s capital.
The Zambian president said the government was monitoring the cholera outbreak and would continue implementing measures to contain its spread. “We can defeat cholera if we work together. Taking measures to avoid contracting the disease is our call to action,” he said in a post on his Facebook page. He has since urged citizens to adhere to the guidelines given by health authorities. On Thursday, Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo led a multi-sectoral team to inspect areas in Lusaka that are mostly affected by cholera. The minister expressed concern about the situation in most shanty compounds and fears that the situation could worsen if people do not adhere to preventive measures.
Meanwhile, UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund, has handed over 320,000 oral rehydration solutions to the Ministry of Health to help curb the surge. Tinkhani Msonda, the UNICEF Zambia acting deputy representative, hoped the donation would go a long way in supplementing the government’s efforts to tackle the outbreak, especially in Lusaka. In remarks delivered during a handover ceremony, Msonda said the UN agency would continue supporting the Ministry of Health in distributing the oral rehydration solution. He said UNICEF was supporting the ministry in various areas and announced that the organization was currently working on a shipment of about 850,000 cholera vaccines, which will soon be in the country.
Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary in Charge of Technical Services Kennedy Lishimpi commended UNICEF for the donation and expressed confidence that the country will soon contain the disease. He said the government planned to implement sustainable measures to eliminate cholera in the country. The government, he said, has finalized the formulation of a cholera elimination plan, which will guide the country toward eradicating the waterborne disease. Zambia has been battling a cholera outbreak since October last year, with Lusaka the hardest hit.
According to Ministry of Health figures, the cumulative cholera cases now stand at 4,433, following 336 new cases in the past 24 hours. Twenty-two people died during the same period, bringing the death toll to 172, while 221 people were discharged, bringing total discharges to 3,621. A total of 634 people are currently admitted to various treatment facilities.