19 February 2013

Zambia: Luapula Cholera Outbreak Under Control - State

INHABITANTS of Chief Mpanta's area of Samfya District in Luapula Province have cried foul over failure by Government to commission Mpanta Rural Health Centre (RHC), which was constructed in the early 1990's.

Meanwhile, Government has disclosed that the outbreak of cholera which engulfed Luapula Province early this year has been brought under control.

Speaking in an interview with Times Health News in Mpanta last week, one of the residents Leya Chileshe said people in the area are forced to travel distances of up to 12 kilometers to the nearest health centre.

Ms Chileshe said failure to commission the clinic had led to an increased number of expectant mothers opting for home deliveries, due to the distance to the alternative health centre.

She said many critically ill patients in the area had died on the way to other RHC's, due to distances involved and lack of transport for patients.

"We have a lot of cases of children and elderly people who die on their way to other health centres, and a lot of expectant mothers who are not able to cover long distances to the other health centre, which is across Lake Bangweulu, have opted for home deliveries, which is not safe, especially when there are complications," she said.

"We even have cases of people being attacked by crocodiles while trying to cross the lake to access health services from the nearest health centre,"she said.

Ms Chileshe wondered why the clinic which she said was constructed between 1992 and 1993, had remained a white elephant at the expense of the health of people in Mpanta village.

She implored Government to ensure that the health centre, which is now being used as a storage facility for many Government projects in the area is commissioned as soon as possible.

Currently, the health facility, has no clinical staff or equipment, and is just being used for storage of equipment for various Government departments.

And area Member of Parliament Chifita Matafwali attributed the failure to operationalise the health centre to lack of political will from the previous regime.

"The main reason why the health centre has not been commissioned up to now is because for the past 15 years or so, this area (Bangweulu constituency) has been in the hands of the opposition, and there was no political will from the previous regime to ensure that the facility is operational," he said.

Mr Matafwali however, said his office was working closely with the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, as well as the central Government to ensure that funds are allocated to purchase the necessary equipment for the health centre.

He also said about K50 million from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) has been set aside this year to buy some of the equipment needed for the health centre to start operating.

Mr Matafwali said clinical staff who were supposed to work at the RHC, were re-deployed to other areas due to lack of equipment, and furniture at the health centre.

He said part of the CDF would be used for construction of an ablution block, and that his office would engage central Government to ensure that staff houses are constructed.

Meanwhile, efforts to get comments from the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, proved futile by press time.

And Luapula Province Minister Benson Kapaya has said the cholera outbreak in the province has been contained.

"On cholera, now Luapula is ok, It is just that I do not have the figures, but I can assure you that the cholera outbreak has now been contained," he said.

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