Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital
Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital

The suggestion by the Zambia Medical Association to establish an office of the physician general to thoroughly scrutinize the health of presidential aspirants has received diverse reactions.

The Zambian Voice said it was unfair for the Zambia Medical Association to suggest that the office of the physician general should be established to thoroughly exam the health of presidential hopefuls.

Zambian Voice executive director Chilufya Tayali told media that such suggestions were unfair especially in this era of HIV/AIDS where some ailments were not supposed to be disclosed to the public unless the person suffering from it sees it fit.

Mr. Tayali said presidential aspirants attract attention from the public because of the nature of the top job.

He further stated that disqualifying the presidential candidates on the basis of ill health will be as good as dragging their health matters in public domain.

“We do not support that move because anyone can die any time, whether fit or sick and people are free to exercise their democratic right of aspiring for presidency if they feel they are fit to deliver,” he said.

Mr. Tayali alleged that the Zambia Medical Association’s proposal was beyond its jurisdiction.

He said the nation should focus on whether the candidate was capable of leading the country effectively because no one has power over life.

But the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) has said the suggestion was progressive because the country has been subjected to mental, depression and physiological turmoil by losing two sitting presidents in a space of six years.

FODEP executive director Macdonald Chipenzi said if the office of the physician general was formed, it should follow proper operational mechanisms and be allowed to operate without influence from government.

Mr. Chipenzi suggested that the physician general should be engaged through an independent committee and ratified by parliament so that the person entrusted to take up the challenge does not operate in fear.

“If the physician general is autonomous from interference, the death of sitting presidents can be avoided. These problems of two extra-ordinary presidential elections have been created two times because government usually handles the health of the republican presidents in secrecy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chipenzi has commended the Patriotic Front (PF) for resolving their intra party wrangles.

He stated that if the division was not solved, it would have had a negative bearing on the party’s future.

He has also called on political parties not to use derogatory remarks during campaigns.

Zambia lost two sitting Presidents in a space of six years. President Levy Mwanawasa died in office in 2008 after ruling for seven years while President Michael Sata died this year after three of being in office.

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52 COMMENTS

  1. So, will the Medical Council put up a list of diseases and ailments that will disqualify a candidate?? Will they also include physical disabilities next. These are utterances that may look good on face value but very complicated in reality.

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    • Certainly, mental disorder, end stage liver disease caused by chronic alcoholism are some of them. What the medical association is suggesting is that the office of the presidency require someone who is medically fit. Before one runs a marathon, they check then for BP and the like, it is for the same reason this has to be done for presidential aspiring candidates

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    • People will check themselves out before they decide to run in an election. Unfit people are cheapening the Zambian Presidency!

      Consequently, we need to create conditions that make it difficult for unfit (mentally and physically) to run for office.

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    • very welcome proposal,,,, please check edgar lungu`s breathing rate,,,, makamaka liver na ma kidneys,,,,,, his lips clearly show alchol abuse

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    • Tell us which country is doing this. This can never work in Africa where we have so many diseases, infact almost every African adult is sick.

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    • Both ZMA & Tayali are off the mark.

      The constitution provides for a Medical board to be constituted if it is felt the sitting president has medical problems. It also DOESN’T discriminate peolpe with illnesses. so democratic rights are not infringed. WHAT HAS FAILED, is the CABINET which has been mandated to CALL FOR THE MEDICAL BOARD becoz of narrow selfish interests – it is from this experience where we should be calling for change in constitution to MANDATE PARLIAMENT to Call for the board rather than Cabinet!

      The President’s Medical problems are indeed a PUBLIC AFFAIR if they ARE SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS which will affect smooth running of the presidency e.g a STROKE, HEART ATTACK etc, we don’t need to know if he has a boil over his buttocks etc

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    • LEVY MWANAWASA HOSPITAL IS A VERY GOOD MODEL OF A GENERAL HOSPITAL SUITABLE FOR ALL TOWNS IN ZAMBIA WITH JUST FEW PHYSICAL VARIATIONS FOR VARIETY. THIS IS BECAUSE ITS SIZEABLY MANAGEABLE IN THE CONTEXT OF MAINTENANCE. ITS WHITEWASH PROMOTES HYGIENE AND CLEANLINESS WITH HEALTH AND SAFETY. IN A WAY IT LOOKS LIKE A HIGH STANDARD AND VERY CLEAN HOTEL. NON-FUNCTIONALLY, ITS ATTRACTIVE TO LOOK AT AND BRINGS HOPE TO THE PATIENT. IT WAS A JOB WELL DONE.

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  2. Why are PFoolish supporters panicking? Is it because of the unhealthy condition of their candidate?

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    • If you are aspiring to lead a country for 5 years then the people have a right to know if you are in good health to do so. A statement showing good health does not mean private information will be published. A physical examination needs to be done and if doctors believe any current state of illness is alarming then than information will have to be released in some form. We are a poor country that cannot afford by-elections. I know one thing that comes to mind is HIV.People cannot be discriminated if they have control over the disease and take medications only if it is advanced and person will be unable to fulfil the demands of the job. So let’s establish this board. Am a health-care worker and am obliged to get a physical exam every year so should a president.

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  3. Chilufya Tayali is being simplistic in his argument. If presidential hopefuls are aware that one has to be medically fit to vie for the presidency then it goes without saying that if one had say a heart condition or say periodical insanity, the risk of entrusting them with the highest office would be great and a danger! Thus such hopefuls would not even press to be adopted and would let others offer themselves. It is not in the country’s benefit to allow somebody whose health would not withstand the rigors of presidential office.

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    • Chilufya Tayali speaks loud and mostly says nothing intelligent. Medical exams is not only for exclusion, in fact primarily a medical exam is to treat someone should they qualify. For example, someone may have liver and brain disease due to alcoholism or his kidneys may be failing…this person would be treated accordingly and doctors may advise accordingly

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    • But do u know that heart condition is treatable and such a person can even leave longer that one with a toothache depending on circumstances.

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    • Dr Mujajati and ZMA have a point. As an active medical practitioner, i think they should have packaged this request better, than narrowing this to medical examination of presidential candidates. For example, why start a new terminology of Physician General when most advanced democracies and commonwealth countries have a “Surgeon General”. You can google his roles as a custodian of public health, not just presidential candidates examination. Check the warning that is on cigarette packs about the dangers of tobacco? Who issued that? Surgeon general especially with military background, would likely be taken more seriously as Govt advisor on medical issues to cabinet and also answerable to parliament and courts of law. We already have similar offices such as Attorney General who advise Govt…

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    • Much as this might sound a good idea, it cannot work in the Zambian situation at the moment. Corruption is just too rampant. Look how we failed to disclose that Sata was terminally ill let alone constitute a medical board.. This will just be an exercise in futility just like the many other regulatory bodies we have. It will just give an opportunity to give those doctors a chance to receive some money,declare a candidate fit only for the chap to die a month later. Again a chap can be declared fit today, contract aids the following day and die after a few months. Peer and self regulation might work but we just need a constitution that allows the VP to take over.

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  4. I for one i can not vote for a candidate who is mentally and physically ill. The office of the president is a very demanding job and as a nation we have to be serious on this one without mercy. I for one if i find myself to be very ill of a serious illness for example kidney failure or liver damage or HIV/AIDS i would immediately withdraw my candidature on health grounds and i see nothing wrong with that. Therefore let us examine them there is nothing to be afraid of. Let us give our country the best. Viva the best candidate to take our country forward.

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  5. We are talking about declaration of the most important Asset here and that is one’s health! All job offers are subject to one passing a medical! This medical includes one’s declaration of their past medical history and state of health. Any false declaration attracts disqualification and termination!
    We cannot afford to be careless!
    Equally, those with history of drunkenness and theft of client money (mental health) should never be allowed near the corridors of power! The moment we do that, we’ll cease to be a democracy and will give way to idio.cracy!

    It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink, [Eccl. 10:17; Hos. 4:11.] (Proverbs 31:4 AMP)

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  6. Except if ka Lungu wins this one and drops dead in about 18 months, it will be Zambian tax payers to foot the bill for yet another by election. That’s some serious #%!*!

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  7. What’s the trouble here? Jobs are subject to medicals. Why should politicians think they must be exempt from natural practice? No wonder we are so underdeveloped. Think forward.

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    • Tell us about a developed country that makes medical examinations a requirement for presidential candidates. Do not just talk from without!

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  8. These political leaders should have a health check regardless. Kaunda prioritised his health and diet and supported the local physicians not just to look after his own health but the health of the nation. However what will stop these lunatics from flaunting the rules. We all now know that the call for a medical board to examine late president Sata could have saved his life.

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  9. Since Zambia is a Christian nation we should also bar none Christians and well known MASONS and devil worshippers from standing as presidents

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  10. Morning Zambians, morning sons & daughters of our Motherland. Just to let u know that PF cadres are bent on taking over the Police service after 20th Jan 2015 shud PF win the elections. They will infiltrate the Police such that even if they (1) grab yo plot & share it amongst themselves or sell it (2) assault u (3) steal from u, (4) bash yo car NO ACTION WILL BE TAKEN BY THE POLICE AS THE THUGS WILL HAVE INFILTRATED THE POLICE. On the other hand, if UPND wins the 20th Jan 2015 elections, there will be: (1) respect of law & order, (2) de-politicization of civil service, (3) efficient Police service as no cadres will be in the Police, (4) very serious effort towards growing the economy, (5) very high powered international delegates will come for HH’s inauguration. VOTE WISELY,…

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  11. The idea is a progressive one, although one has to ask whether there are any precedents. One could argue that medical fitness is not always synonymous with fitness to be employed. We would have to skirt around and trample upon many people’s rights. What I agree with is that a candidate for President has to inspire the confidence of the nation in all respects. We have the right to know everything about them, before handing to them such enormous power and responsibility. Medical imperfections may not disqualify them but we would like to know the risk of voting such candidates into office.

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  12. Zambians including the most educated are pregnant with sh!t ideas. Just because you have seen a few president die in office, suddenly medical exams for all candidates. State funerals will still be done even for former presidents who will die, it is in the constitution. So what costs are you talking about? If you are worried about costs, then remove the law of state funerals for presidents and former presidents, because all will die one day.

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  13. I am not sure why we even entertain Chilufya Tayali. This guy has nothing intelligent to utter. A person who aspires for public office must stand ready for scrutiny. Presidential funerals are a cost to a country. He who has little to live should not be selfish just because of firm.

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  14. The suggestion has no base , it will not pass the test of time . It is like the degree which was so useless. degree in what field….in massaging? Please let us think properly as educated people .

    That suggestion must flushed in the toilet.

    Peace and Prosperity to Mother Zambia.

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  15. A health RB ruled for 3 years and survived
    A Sick MS ruled for 3 Years and died

    To me Sata has done more than Rupiah if not the MMDs twenty years in office.

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  16. Death of a president has potential to plunge the nation into chaos. It is therefore, critical to have a full medical for an aspiring candidate, footballers, ordinary workers do medicals. You can’t work for the mines if you fail a medical.

    We all knew that LPM, MCS were not fit and just see what resulted. We know also from EL’s own admission that he isn’t fit to be president but there are many persons surrounding him who are pushing him to be president. It’s like Zambians never learn. Maybe we need some serious civil war to wake-up.

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  17. Why is it that our country Zambia has a lit of people access to online media and cant think outside the box. All this useless talk because we had two presidents die in office.
    What if a leader is shot at or involved in an accident and dies then you same ignorant self perceived inteligent people will come and say no lets have bullet proof and accident free candidates shallow minded.
    This is another cost we do not need. So please leave these death avoidance topics God gives lifes and he is the only one who knows when one will die. It unchristian to try to predict death.
    Lets be real fix the constitution and leave what can happen to God to happen.

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    • Tell us what big public or private job you can get without passing a medical. In the mines for example a medical is compulsory every two or so years. So if a medical is compulsory even is major institutions of learning why not for politicians? In fact it should be extended to all public figures such as maps and not only the president.

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  18. Very Progressive suggestions by the ZMA. Lets implement. Chilufya Tayali has a warped view of his self importance and area of expertise. Stick to PF campaigns and leave medicine and ethics to professionals.

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  19. Vodka Lungu is suffering from diabetes and alcoholism therefore he can be disqualified.

    Don’t you feel sympathy for coercing a person who suffers from alcoholism to lead you when you know very well that he has a serious distinct physical desire to consume alcohol beyond his capacity to control it, regardless of all rules of common sense?

    Do you think such a drunkard can think of a national vision on how he will achieve national objectives?

    Honestly, how does a normal person justify his or her support for a drunakrd? Bushe alcoholism tebulwele?

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  20. What a great idea!
    We should also include medicals for the cabinet ministers.
    Lets start searching for a physician in chief

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  21. Sounds like a good idea, as in Sata’s case. It should be made easier to share Health status of President. BUT, it should not be used as a requirement to enter into candidacy. Having a medical condition should not prevent any one contesting. It should just be made easier to monitor where serious health issues arise.

    Oh I can’t take this or anything else, serious today!

    I am doing a barbi in the freezing London weather, with a Xmas hat on, trying to pretend am having fun!

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    • How far do we go?

      Should we insist on candidates who are physically complete and ban Presidents on wheelchairs even though they have a brilliant brain?

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  22. Include death by possible plan crash like samora macheal, coup detat, and car accident. i think tayali has a point.

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  23. Just sort out the constitution so that if any of these chaps die during term of office we don’t have unnecessary bye elections but that a running mate Vice President goes all the way till next general elections. That will ensure parties have continuity structures. Further give power to someone other than cabinet to call for a medical board should a president become incapacitated so that this is independently called upon as opposed to leaving it to cabinet who have a vested interest in terms of their jobs being secured. With this anyone can run for presidency irrespective of his health condition.

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  24. Jinx Popo above makes a lot of sense. The introduction of “new terminology” of Physician General unlike Surgeon General is unnecessarily abitrally and has taken away from the well intended intentions of the argument. The proposed scope of the Surgeon General should be public health (but including verifying and certifing medical status of presidential candidates). In my view, all treatable conditions should probably not be such a headache, but terminally ill diseases should be documented and be declared to the public by the Surgeon General’s office (who can have specialists working under this office) like Attorney General’s chambers with several lawyers.

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  25. if for ordinary job you under go medical tests just make sure you are fit, why not for the highest job on the land. this one is a very good suggestion and let it be .

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  26. The proposal by ZMA lacks merit because Dr Mjajati did a copy and paste of terminology without understanding the functions of the office of the surgeon general in countries where this exists. The surgeon general advises the government on matters of public health importance not neccesarily concerned with the day to day physical health of individuals. Dr Mjajati and team are looking at things from a narrow clinical point of view and lack exposure. They should be guided and advised to find a better way of coining what they are putting forward.

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  27. Strange suggestion from some of these doctors. Who is sponsoring them? I stand to be corrected; where in this world is this being practised, Outer Mongolia, perhaps?

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