Government is concerned with the high-risk environment for tuberculosis (TB) transmission due to poor ventilation and exposure of workers to silica and coal dust in some mines.
Minister of Labour Joyce Simukoko said various factors such as poor livelihood and Socio-economic challenges faced by miners after leaving employment create conditions that facilitate TB infections and transmissions in mining communities and operations.
Ms Simukoko explained that prolonged exposure to the aforementioned substances damages the lungs and cause silicosis and black lung diseases which put workers at a high risk of contracting TB.
In in a statement to the media in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Simukoko pointed out that poor health-seeking behaviour among ex-miners mainly due to stigma, fear of losing employment and the high opportunity cost of accessing care has negatively impacted early diagnosis and treatment of TB.
“In order to enhance the livelihood of ex-miners and mitigate some of the factors that make them vulnerable to TB, Government with support from the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support Project secured funds through the World Bank. And through this project and in collaboration with other stakeholders such as the National Ex-miners and Allied Workers Association of Zambia among others we have developed programs aimed at improving the livelihood of Ex-Miners,” she stated.
She stated that presently, Ex-miner cooperatives have been formed in Mkushi, Kitwe, Mufulira, Mumbwa, Nampundwe, Chililabombwe and Chingola districts.
The Minister expressed hope that the cooperatives will not only improve the livelihoods of their members but will also contribute towards job creation.
She further hailed the line ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI), Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC), Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) for the expertise that they have provided and continued to provide in order to nurture the cooperatives that have been established into viable business entities.