The opposition UPND has called on the government to declare the cholera outbreak a national emergency especially that the military have been called in to assist.
UPND Chairman for Health Dr Christopher Kaliwa said the government should tell the citizens which other parts of the country are affected.
Dr Kalili has also called upon government to immediately implement the World Health Organisation guidelines for the control of cholera epidemics.
“We also urge the timely and adequate release financial resources for this cause. The Public Health Act is outdated and should be amended to conform to current public health concerns,” Dr Kalila said in a statement.
Below is the full statement
Sunday 31st December 2017
UPND Official Statement on Cholera Outbreak
The UPND wishes to express it condolences and sympathies to those of our citizens who are affected the by the current outbreak of cholera in Lusaka an elsewhere. It is very sad and painful that 53 years after independence live continues to be lost year in year out from preventable diseases such as cholera. Cholera is a disease of poor hygiene often occasioned by lack of clean water and sanitation. If is therefore a disease of poor social development.
It is a barometer of the country’s social economic conditions. There is no doubt that most of our people in Lusaka live in squalor and very little effort over the years has been made to improve their conditions particularly in the areas of water, sanitation and housing. Consequently, with sadness that cholera is now endemic in Zambia.
We are told that the current epidemic started on 6th October 2017 and that cumulatively well over 1600 cases have been reported with 42 deaths.
We have been informed that the epidemic is mainly concentrated in Lusaka. We gather that the outbreak has so far affected over 80 residential areas of Lusaka district. This very frightening given the unplanned nature of Lusaka’s settlements. Add to this the poor drainage and unsanitary conditions that exist in Lusaka we can expect cases to rise if no drastic measures are taken. With more rains and flooding yet to come, we expect that the epidemic is yet to reach its peak.
As UPND we note the measures and interventions being implemented by the Government including the spot visit to Garden Compound by the President and his statement to upgrade townships in Lusaka. We hope this pronouncement will be backed by action by the relevant ministries in the shortest period of time.
However, we are saddened by the perennial occurrence of cholera in Lusaka and other parts of the country even when we know the root causes such as lack of safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, poor drainages, unsanitary trading practices that include the sale of food staffs in undesignated arrears and policies that promote unregulated street vending.
Clearly, If the government had been proactive with the provision water and sanitation, adequate housing and disease prevention which includes continuous surveillance and early warning systems we would not be in this situation. The buck therefore stops at government.
The UPND would like to call upon all our citizens to fully cooperate with health authorities in their efforts to control this cholera outbreak. We appeal to all citizens to heed to the instructions from technocrats in particular to boil and chlorinate drinking water, wash hands after using the toilet, avoid shaking hands and public gatherings and not to buy food and water from the streets.
Lastly we call upon the government to declare this cholera outbreak a national emergency especially that the military have been called in to assist. The government should tell the citizens which other parts of the country are affected. We call upon our colleagues in government to immediately implement the WHO guidelines for the control of cholera epidemics. We also urge the timely and adequate release financial resources for this cause. The Public Health Act is outdated and should be amended to conform to current public health concerns.
We in the UPND would like to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to work with all stakeholders to stop this cholera outbreak. We would like to assure the citizens that we represent an alternative healthcare strategy that will be premised on primary healthcare that emphasises prevention rather than cure. To this end we will commit significant resources to Water and Sanitation and a robust community health strategy that places health delivery in the hand of citizens while at the same time strengthening all aspects of our healthcare systems. With us you will never not be left behind.
Hon. Dr.Christopher Kalila, MP
UPND Chairman for Health