3 January 2018

Zambia: Govt Action to Control Cholera Correct

Photo: Laurence Hoenig/MSF
Oral cholera vaccination (file photo).

DESPERATE times call for desperate measures.

This is why we fully support the interventions taken by the Government to control the spread of the deadly cholera disease which has now seen the coming on of the defence forces who have combed Lusaka Central Business District (CBD) as well as City and Soweto markets clean.

Cholera has unfortunately turned into an annual occurrence, especially in Lusaka where the death toll is now approaching 50. These are unnecessary deaths, especially that the disease hits at almost the same time. Yet we do nothing at stopping its recurrence.

The poor sanitary situation has been a song sang every year and countless calls have been made to make Lusaka cleaner but all these have never brought about either a clean town or even a well looked after environment. We are just promoting a vicious cycle.

We have left areas that give us food- the markets- in a deplorable and inhabitable state with no sanitary facilities like running water or even ablution blocks. Yet the council has been going round daily to collect levies.

Social amenities should be a priority especially in trading places and this makes the case even bigger when it is food that has to be traded.

This is why we feel that the measures taken by Government to clean up Lusaka CBD and the markets are necessary and deserve applause, even if it means stopping trading for a few days. Cholera is a matter of life and death and should not be allowed to escalate at whatever cost.

We understand and sympathise with the street vendors who have been kept away from the streets but this is a necessary move to save lives of many people including theirs especially that Lusaka CDB has restaurants doted all over the street with the most minimal care to hygiene.

How the Lusaka City Council has let this ill escalate remains a wonder.

We have seen on several occasions how there is no care and moves to provide sanitary facilities at markets like Munyaule which remains a disaster-in-the-making. We should not wait for deaths to act.

We also praise the vendors for the calm kept over these periods of being kept away from their trading places and it shows just how this has been a move long overdue.

And going forward, we propose that a lasting solution gets to be found, even if it means extending closure to the markets and places with a carefree approach to dealing in foodstuff.

It's about time laws are enforced and we feel vendors or people in markets should only be allowed back in their trading places once life-saving facilities are provided like toilets and also that the environment is clean with potable running water.

Already Lusaka is dealing a shuddering case of people drinking fecal matter and human body parts through ground water and this is all because of not enforcing laws that exist in regulating borehole sinking.

We do not need to be getting our defence forces to help out on situations that we could have handled on our own. Such measures should not be restricted to Lusaka alone but to all areas that look to have relaxed standards regarding sanitation.

Life is a matter of priority. Let's stop unnecessary deaths.

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