Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
THE postponement of the opening of the universities, colleges and schools by the Ministry of Health is a necessary precautionary measure to prevent the spread of cholera, which has broken out in various parts of the country.
The epi-centre is pointedly Lusaka, the capital city of garbage and filth. There have been more than 2,000 cases reported of the disease and more than 50 cases of deaths have been recorded.
The actions taken by the Ministry of Education through the SI issued by the Minister of Health are primarily designed to curb and curtail the cross infections of cholera into more than 16 million population of Zambia.
Alfred Zulu, a good governance advocate says the postponement of the opening of the learning institutions country-wide is a desirable strategy by the Zambian health officials who are supported by United Nations Development Programme, World Health Organisation and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund to attend to the epidemic and contain the further spread of the disease throughout the country.
“The students and pupils, if they were let to return to their institutions of learning in various parts of the country, they would be a danger of a massive spread of the epidemic – because some of the learners could be affected by the disease and they act as vectors – these are carriers of diseases in epidemiology,” Mr Zulu says.
As such the health officials would have been unable to contain the infections because the disease would be out of control as many more people could be infected because those who may carry the infections have the potential to infect other people.
“So the measures taken by the MoE and supported by the UN agencies are commendable and the correct steps necessary to safeguard public health and ensure that the disease is completely contained and eradicated. The calendars of schools and tertiary institutions can be adjusted to make sure that the time which will be lost because of the extended closure is compensated accordingly,” Mr Zulu says.
Whereas if measures and strategies are not effected to combat the cholera epidemic; hundreds and thousands of citizens could die and the epidemic has a significant effect on the overall economy and incomes of several households and farmers and manufacturers.
The impact of the cholera epidemic on the treasury is that it is draining huge resources, which could have been used in a different sector of the Zambian economy.
The extended opening period for schools at all levels means that both learners and teachers will devise extended working hours to recover the lost teaching and learning time.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.