Thursday, June 13, 2024

M’membe and former Health Minister renders Advice to the State on Cholera outbreak

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Dr. Fred M’membe, President of the Opposition Socialist Party in Zambia, has issued an appeal to President Hakainde Hichilema, urging the declaration of a public health emergency in response to the escalating cholera outbreak in Lusaka and other regions. Dr. M’membe’s statement, marked by urgency and concern, comes at a juncture as the nation grapples with the ramifications of the cholera epidemic on its healthcare system.

Dr. M’membe highlighted the severe strain the cholera outbreak has placed on the country’s healthcare infrastructure. In his words, “The health staff is overstretched. The infrastructure is inadequate, and medical supplies are not enough.” This pointed critique by Dr. M’membe leaves little room for misinterpretation: the situation is dire and necessitates immediate action.

The core of Dr. M’membe’s argument revolves around invoking sections 36 and 37 of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) Act. This action, he asserts, would empower President Hichilema to mobilize military resources for a civil emergency of this nature. “It has been done before during the 2017/18 cholera outbreak,” Dr. M’membe reminded, highlighting the precedent for such measures. He also emphasized that this provision would unlock additional resources from the treasury, crucial for tackling the emergency effectively.

Dr. M’membe stressed the importance of the government’s decision-making in prompting international and local partners to assist. “This is the provision that moves the international community and cooperating partners to assist in mobilizing resources to support the cause,” he stated, indicating the pivotal role of government action in securing external support.

In addition to Dr. M’membe’s statements, the former Health Minister of Zambia also contributed a detailed plan to combat the cholera outbreak. He suggested that the nation is confronted with a ferocious public health enemy and the death toll is unacceptably high. “Let’s step up cholera interventions!” he urged, commiserating with families who lost loved ones and saluting the fallen nurse warrior who succumbed at the frontline.

The former Minister emphasized enhancing evidence-informed leadership and coordination of a multi-sectoral response, triggering and strengthening epidemic preparedness and response committees at national and subnational levels, and activating emergency response systems through the Zambia National Public Health Institute. He also recommended thoroughly defining the epidemic, mapping epicenters and potential hotspots, and identifying factors fueling it.

An essential part of the plan involved stepping up health promotion activities to sensitize the public on personal and collective measures to avoid contracting cholera. “All media and communication platforms need to be engaged,” he insisted. He also called for escalating upstream interventions to address the disease’s determinants and upscaling community-level interventions to halt new infections.

The former Minister’s recommendations also included engaging partners to procure cholera vaccines for mass vaccination in all hotspots, discouraging overcrowding and public gatherings for cholera victims’ funerals, and improving case management to deal with the caseload and stop the deaths. He also underlined the need for enhancing laboratory investigations, training and deploying adequate human capital for community-based public health interventions, and issuing statutory instruments to identify adequate infrastructure to treat patients.

He concluded, “Unity of purpose is cardinal,” emphasizing the need for enhanced leadership for a coordinated multi-sectoral response to stop this ferocious assault on Zambia’s public health security.

25 COMMENTS

    • What government needs to do is deal with local government first. Clean it up and give it some teeth so that it can effectively supervise the ever-sprouting shanty townships. Sit down and research on cholera. When it started breaking out in Zambia in the mid 70s it never affected the copperbelt. Why? Because the Mine townships were organised and efficiently run with hygiene high on the local government priorities. Lusaka had very many disorganised shanty townships and cholera felt very welcome there. Lusaka has never improved so cholera is now its regular visitor.

    • Lusaka has never improved so cholera is now its regular visitor. Government needs to come up with a Marshall plan. It wont be enough to rid the streets of vendors. Lusaka needs safe ablutions. The health ministry is in the current problem the firefighter because those who fall sick from lack of clean water need medicine or treatment

  1. Ask any health practitioner in Lusaka about how the cholera outbreak was fought and why it is back. The response one gets is that there is too much politicking by Masebo in the Ministry of Health and failure by her to listen to health experts. Cholera was fought in 2018 because GRZ, with support of Cooper acting partners, rolled out a massive vaccination programme in Cholera hotspot.

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    • Why Masebo??
      @Dr. Mulenga, I wonder what kind of doctor you are. Did you find Masebo’s sh!t in water people are drinking in Lusaka? Why do you abuse women?
      There is no minister incharge of condoms but Masebo. But talk about Cholera, which Minister is incharge of water mixed with urine? Which minister is in charge of treating Kawana’s feaces?
      Don’t just blame Masebo.

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  2. HH should remove Masebo and give us a health professional as Minister of Health. Let HH take Masebo to Local Government and make Garry Nkombo Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Christopher Kalila can be appointed Minister of Health.

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    • No not neccessarily Dr Kaoma. You dont need a professional to run the political part of the Ministry of Health. That is why we have Permanent Secretaries. Regrettably the PS’s are nowadays being politically appointed by State House.- And that is where the roof is leaking in our house.
      These originally professional vacancies have been turned into political appeasement posts. When Michael Sata was Health Minister, doctors were very happy with him and he wasnt a doctor. Im saying this because I have inside information as there are two doctors in my family and I could see they were content.

  3. A lot of blah blah here. Listen up, the solution is simple (but requires hard work): separate the s.h.i.t from the drinking water; replace shacks with habitable housing (ppp perhaps?); finally, move away from legislating disasters and rather respond to them in a manner that ensures the disaster response is more mitigating each time. Talking about commiserating and stuff like that is not a good solution.

    • This must be a continuous exercise… not seasonal. Councils have actually over employed but this labor is never used. The council health department must be visiting our townships every three months instead of waiting until cholera or other diseases strike.

    • @Deja Vu Yes it is not about treating the sick-Giving medicines to the sick is fire fighting. It is about ensuring the causes of the outbreak are effectively tackled. Lusaka water and sewerage systems are at the centre of the problem. Tackle this and cholera will dissappear.

  4. Politicizing issues related to construction and public health can lead to a lack of focus on essential regulations and standards. When decisions about building construction and public health infrastructure are made based on political considerations rather than empirical evidence and expert advice, there is a risk of neglecting crucial measures that safeguard public safety and well-being. This can create conditions that are conducive to the spread of diseases like cholera and compromise the overall health of a community.

  5. The Magna Carta, originally issued in 1215, is a historically significant document that laid the foundation for the principle of the rule of law and individual rights. Many people appreciate the Magna Carta because it represents a pivotal moment in the establishment of legal principles that limit the power of the government and protect the rights of individuals. It is viewed as a landmark in the development of constitutional law and has played a crucial role in shaping the legal and political systems of many countries. The Magna Carta’s emphasis on the rule of law and individual liberties continues to resonate with individuals who value legal protections and the limitation of arbitrary authority.

  6. Adherence to construction laws is crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of communities, preventing the outbreak of diseases, and mitigating the impact of natural disasters. Politicizing essential aspects of public health and construction can undermine these efforts, while the Magna Carta is revered for its role in establishing fundamental legal principles that protect individual rights and limit governmental authority.

    • True. “Politicizing essential aspects of public health and construction…”
      When government politicises the appointment of a professional post such as Permanent Secretary of Health, it creates a vacuum through which inefficiency starts to leak into the system.

    • I don’t think so. Perhaps a part of it was well handled but for a comprehensive solution it should not have returned

  7. M’meee does not know what he talks about. The other day he calls them imperialists when they come to invest and when there is cholera he calls them international community and cooperating partners.

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