Editor's Comment

Emulate churches in fighting cholera

A HEALTH worker at Chipata Clinic cholera centre disinfecting residents whenever they visit the institution. The battle against cholera continues in the new year. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI

PLACES of worship, particularly churches, are great places for one to receive or consolidate salvation.

They are also excellent places for fellowship as they draw congregants from a wide mix of people. This mix, unfortunately, is also a high risk platform for the spread of diseases, such as cholera that has rocked Lusaka.
This in no way suggests that churches are unhygienic places. To the contrary, most churches are exceptionally clean. The challenge is that one can easily contract the disease through such everyday acts like shaking hands.
It is commendable, therefore, that the church has responded positively to Government’s call to help in the fight against cholera.
Some churches have complied by not holding prayers in cholera-prone areas while others have banned shaking of hands.
Overnight prayers which are usually held on New Year’s Eve were cancelled to observe Government’s directive.
The gesture by the church is complementing other measures Government has put in place to curb the further spread of cholera, which has claimed over 40 lives so far.
This is the worst outbreak of the water-borne disease in recent years.
The church lives with the people and it is in the best interest of men and women of God not to lose any more members.
Government has on its part escalated the fight against cholera by engaging the military to clean up selected parts of the capital city such as markets and drainages.
Markets have since been shut temporarily to ensure total clean-up of the premises before marketeers return.
The military is involved in the operation to bury shallow wells in shanty townships after delivering clean and portable water to shanty townships.
So far, residents have cooperated with the military during the clean-up operation designed to sanitise the capital city.
We hope that the work started by the military will be taken up by the residents and market traders to ensure that cleanliness is sustained.
The involvement of the military is a wake-up call to the local authorities because it has exposed their lack of sense of responsibility in ensuring that trading places are clean.
That is why President Lungu criticised the local authorities for failure to uphold the cleanliness of the cholera outbreak points, untidy surroundings which breed cholera.
President Lungu rightly observed that the Ministry of Local Government and the Lusaka City Council have gone to sleep as they have allowed markets and other trading areas to continue operating in unhealthy surroundings.
During his tour of the cleaning exercise in Lusaka’s central business district on Sunday, President Lungu said that the local authority has allowed sanitary infrastructure to be clogged by unplanned structures.
President Lungu also said a lot of money has been spent on rehabilitating infrastructure to modern standards but these efforts have been frustrated by unplanned structures.
The President is right.
There have been so many pronouncements and money spent to ensure that the country is clean but the opposite is true.
In 2007, President Levy Mwanawasa launched the ‘Make Zambia Clean and Healthy’ campaign is to improve the health and living environment for everyone.
Mr Mwanawasa had said at the time that the programme was aimed at helping and facilitating the making of all homes, communities, villages, towns and cities clean.
Two years ago, the Patriotic Front (PF) government re-launched the ‘Make Zambia Clean and Healthy’ campaign by designating the first Saturday of every month as the official Keep Zambia Clean and Healthy campaign day.
Then Minister of Local Government and Housing John Phiri urged all citizens to set aside the first Saturday of every month for cleaning of premises and surroundings.
Even the rebranding of the ‘Make Zambia Clean and Healthy Campaign’ has not yielded results going by the business as usual attitude which has infuriated President Lungu.

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