11 January 2018

Zambia: Mass Vaccination Begins in Lusaka

AS a vaccination exercise against cholera got underway in Lusaka yesterday, targeting 2 million people, the Copperbelt was preparing its own mass-action to keep the epidemic at bay.

A day after President Edgar Lungu suggested a national day cleaning, it was announced in Ndola yesterday that all districts of the Copperbelt would be undertaking just such a programme starting early this morning, with some K2.3 million set aside for the work.

Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo said all the 10 districts in the province needed to get involved in the programme to ensure the objective of eliminating the risk of a cholera outbreak was achieved.

Mr Lusambo made the announcement when he led Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Bright Nundwe and a team of health officials and other stakeholders in collecting contributions from business houses in the central business district in Ndola.

He said the money would be used to buy cleaning materials and that the exercise would be done routinely to keep the province clean.

"We are collecting contributions from business houses towards the cleaning of the city because we feel we need to get involved and keep our surroundings clean to avoid diseases," he said.

Mr Lusambo said the exercise was a form of sensitisation to inculcate the culture of cleanliness.

Copperbelt provincial Health Director Consity Mwale said there was need for concerted efforts to take such diarrhoeal diseases as cholera and the cleaning exercise was one way of tackling the issue.

Ndola business executive Chuni Patel, who contributed a K2,500 said the exercise said he supported the idea and expressed the hope that the resources organised would be put to good use.

And Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya announced at Mutandabantu grounds in Lusaka's Kanyama township yesterday where he flagged off the immunisation exercise that the cumulative countrywide cholera cases yesterday stood at 2, 905 while 218 were on treatment with one more death recorded in Lusaka, bring the number of people succumbing to the disease to 62.

Out of that number, Lusaka had 2, 755 cases, of which 2, 514 were successfully treated.

Dr Chilufya said vaccination of two million citizens was a crucial exercise in the campaign to protect communities against the disease.

"This is an important exercise because it has protection against cholera in the next three years," Dr Chilufya said.

Kanyama Member of Parliament Elizabeth Phiri expressed concern that residents in her area had continued practising risky habits despite robust Government and stakeholder efforts to eradicate the disease.

United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan commended Government and the private sector for the immediate cholera response, stating this should be followed by behavioral change on the part of residents.

Local Government minister Vincent Mwale said that he was concerned at the continued use of water from shallow wells which was contributing to the increase of cholera cases.

He said this during the flag off of the cholera vaccine campaign in Garden Township.

Mr Mwale said Government was committed to ensure that shallow wells were buried and increase access to clean water but the public should help Government by avoiding using water from wells.

World Bank senior operations officer for health John Makumba commended Government for the measures it had put in place to end cholera.

Mr Makumba said the World Bank would continue supporting Government in its efforts to prevent cholera but it was important for the public to play its part.

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