THE high tuberculosis prevalence on the Copperbelt should be a cause of concern for all.
It means in one way or another, we are all affected, either closely or remotely so.
As Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya said, it is an emergency that requires effective solutions.
According to Dr Chilufya who was speaking in Kitwe during the implementation of the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health System Support project in Zambia, 1,211 out of every 100,000 people have TB.
We note with alarm that this indeed is a high figure and if left unchecked, the situation may spell doom for our communities.
From the ministerâ€™s statement, it is evident that the disease affects both those who work in the mines and in government.
TB, as we know it, is an airborne disease and it thrives in well populated areas. And on the Copperbelt, it is bound to thrive because of the high population.
When we mention the mines, we are talking about people who are employed, are contributing to the creation of wealth, people who have families, that is wives and children to provide for.
When people who are in gainful employment, like miners or others, get TB, their contribution to the creation of wealth and ultimately economic growth, is negatively impacted.
As patients, they have to get days off, visit the hospital and be attended to until they are better again to resume their duties. The treatment of TB takes longer.
We are talking of man-hours being lost and finances being spent to have the sick workers get back to their good health.
This takes away the ability of the workers to meaningfully contribute to the success of their companies during the time they are indisposed.
Because of this, the need to take a multi-sectoral approach to preserve the health of the people on the Copperbelt is urgent. While the available medications have reduced the risk of death, TB still remains deadly if it is not treated.
It is, therefore, important that the screening of residents is enhanced to prevent further infections and thwart the spread of the disease.
The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Mines need to pool their resources and put in measures to prevent the spread of the disease. This is in line with Dr Chilufyaâ€™s call for a multi-ministerial approach in tackling the disease.
Among those who are affected are their members. But the larger picture should take into consideration their role in the nation and that their collaborative efforts can bring about a positive gain in fighting the spread of the disease in the province.
Residents, in the main, need to be made aware of the dangers of the disease. It affects them and their families. The stakeholders, the main government institutions have a responsibility to create awareness of the disease and its dangers so that residents take precautions and work towards reducing infections.
Employers, on their part, should take care of their employees by providing them with health care systems that will ensure their workers remain productive.
A worker is an important asset to any institution and employers can help them by ensuring their health is taken care of.