23 January 2018

Zambia: Schools Re-Open But...

The Ministry of Health has issued an alert to the Ministry of General Education to ensure schools in three out of six operational zones in Lusaka do not reopen to avoid the spread of cholera.

General Education spokesperson Nondo Chilonga named the affected zones as Matero, Kanyama and Chipata which encompass Garden House, George, Chunga, Kanyama, John Laing, Chawama, Chibolya and Chipata, where the disease was prevalent.

Ms Chilonga said the ministry would continue carrying out inspections to ensure acceptable hygiene and sanitation standards were maintained in all schools.

"All the schools in the mentioned areas are not opening whether they were initially cleared or not by the Ministry of Health. We wish to advise parents and community members in the affected areas to cooperate with the Government's directive so that we focus on saving lives.

"The schools that have been advised to remain closed will have to wait for two weeks for further guidance from the Ministry of Health," Ms Chilonga said in a statement yesterday.

She said the schools in the other three zones should maintain high standards of hygiene and sanitation if they were to remain open.

"The Ministry of Health and that of General Education will continue carrying out serious inspections to ensure acceptable hygiene and sanitation standards are maintained in all schools," Ms Chilonga added.

In Kitwe, a sense of confusion marred the reopening of schools as some schools defied an order not to reopen owing to unfit conditions for the learners.

Kitwe District Commissioner Binwell Mpundu said 10 out of the 36 schools in Kitwe that were inspected, did not meet the recommended health standards, but that they were not communicated to on whether to open or not.

Mr Mpundu said in an interview that the affected schools were still awaiting further communication.

He named the affected schools as Kamfinsa, Kwacha, Twatasha, Mindolo, Ishuko and Mutende, among other others.

He said consultations were underway through the office of the permanent secretary on the way forward, but maintained that unfit schools should not have been opened to ensure there were no new cases of cholera.

Meanwhile, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has granted permission to only four Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to reopen after being verified and certified by public health departments.

The institutions cleared included DMI St Eugene Chibombo and Chipata Campuses, Evangelical and Northrise Universities.

Information, education and communication officer Birbal Musoba said the four institutions had been verified by the Authority to have passed the inspections administered by public health departments of the Ministry of Health and the local authorities.

Mr Musoba said in a communiqué that this followed the directive issued by the Ministry of Higher Education that private universities could only reopen on 22nd January, 2018, if they were cleared by the public health expertise.

"As of 10 am on Monday, 22nd January , 2018, only four institutions, namely; DMI St Eugene Chibombo and Chipata Campuses, Evangelical and Northrise Universities have been verified by the Authority to have passed the inspections by ministry of health inspectors," he said.

He warned of stern and swift action by HEA to any private institutions that would resume operations without being given a written directive to do so.

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