Analysis: BRIAN MALAMA
BETWEEN the Ministry of Health and other government entities, both large and small, contributions from concerned corporates and individuals have resulted in the cholera relief effort taking shape.
Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya and Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale’s call for ‘Help for Cholera’ drive and countless other community collections illustrate the Zambian impulse to help people whose lives have been upended by the disease.
Kudos to the task force team, Government workers and volunteers who have spent sleepless nights crafting remedial measures in an attempt to curb cholera, which nearly spiralled out of control.
It is plausible to argue that cholera is no longer an endemic but an epidemic which haunts mostly Lusaka residents and sometimes selected districts around the country.
Zambia declared a cholera outbreak on October 6 last year after two confirmed cases were recorded in Chipata and Mazyopa townships in Lusaka.
The outbreak has since spread to other sub-districts within Lusaka and to Chongwe and Shibuyunji districts in Lusaka Province, including the Copperbelt, Central, Southern, Western and Eastern provinces.
The epidemic has been contracted by people of different age groups, including children under the age of five, with more than 2,660 cases and 66 deaths recorded.
In its continued effort to support the cholera response, Trade Kings last week donated 1,200,000 bottles of chlorine to the Ministry of Health.
The company has pledged to further deliver 300,000 bottles of chlorine to Government for the next months to help curb the spread of cholera.
The chlorine, which is expected to be distributed for free among households in Lusaka, will help to eliminate vibrio cholera, the germs that cause cholera.
Chlorine is a chemical element used in purifying or treating untreated drinking water.
Trade Kings deserves a pat on the back for investing K2 million specifically into the manufacture of chlorine. This donation is a milestone for it could not have come at a better moment than now.
A fortnight ago, Trade Kings made its initial donation of disinfectants and cleaning equipment worth over K4 million towards the fight against the spread of cholera in Lusaka.
It is obvious that Trade Kings has committed itself to helping mitigate the current outbreak, and its collaborative chlorine project on emergency preparedness will glide in well in combating the epidemic.
The company offers a full spectrum of health, education, sanitation and women empowerment programmes for individuals and the community at large.
Trade Kings Foundation, whose credo is to improve lives, looks forward to seeing a healthy Zambia. The company wants to be an integral part of the community it operates in.
Through the foundation, Trade Kings will also contribute to public education initiatives on healthy living behaviours through events and projects.
It is also gratifying to note that the Ministry of Health has acknowledged the continued support from stakeholders like Trade Kings in addressing health challenges such as the current cholera outbreak.
The cholera response in the country has been anchored on a multi-sectoral approach. The ministers from Local Government; Environment, Water and Sanitation, the Vice President’s Office and the local Member of Parliament, who is Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, were present at the handover.
In their communication, the ministers have emphasised the importance of implementing both short and long-term measures aimed at solving the water supply, sanitation and hygiene challenges in the affected areas.
Government has committed to improving garbage collection, desludging of latrines and provision of clean water free of charge to the affected communities, including community education and mobilisation.
The initiative by President Edgar Lungu to rid the city and surrounding townships of street vendors is a solid decision coming from top leadership with a view to fostering acceptable standards of hygiene.
Street vending with impunity, which has generated tonnes of uncollected garbage, has been the genesis of perennial cholera outbreaks in Lusaka.
The onus remains with local authorities to maintain the new order and cleanliness President Lungu and the general citizenry would love to see.
Bravo to Trade Kings and other partners in the corporate world that have exhibited excellent and apt response to the fight against cholera, which always threaten to wipe out scores of citizens at the slightest opportunity.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail photo-editor.