President Lungu directs the Army to help contain the spread of Cholera in Lusaka
President Edgar Lungu has directed all the three wings of the Defence Force to join the Ministry of Health and Lusaka City Council in escalated efforts to contain the spread of cholera in the city.
This morning the President reviewed the ongoing interventions led by the Ministry of Health and Lusaka City Council and came to the conclusion that emergency steps needed to be taken to stem the tide of the epidemic which has now spread to new areas outside the zones where the deadly waterborne disease broke out in October this year.
Government declared an outbreak of cholera in Lusaka district on 6th October, 2017 after confirming two cases that were presented to Chipata First Level Hospital, in Lusaka.
The outbreak has so far affected over 80 residential areas of Lusaka district with most cases from coming Chipata, Garden, Kanyama, Chawama, Matero, Kabanana, Garden house, Mazyopa, Chazanga, Misisi, Bauleni, Mandevu, N’gombe, Mtendere and John Laing.
More recently the outbreak has spread to low-density areas including Rhodespark, Woodlands, Balastone, Chelstone, Silverest, Chamba Valley and Ibex Meanwood among others.
Despite the commendable efforts and interventions instituted by multisectoral teams at all levels, the outbreak has continued with 1,550 cases recorded cumulatively with 168 undergoing treatment as at 06:00AM on 29th December 2017.
Lusaka has been recording an average of 60 new cases every day. The President notes with great sadness that a total of 41 people have died of the disease since its outbreak.
The outbreak was initially linked to contaminated water from shallow wells and unsanitary conditions in the residential and public areas affected. But we now note that the spread of cholera is being propagated through contaminated food as evidenced by the recent analysis of food samples such as mangoes, apples, fish, meats, and chicken obtained from various markets and street.
Among the cases recorded so far, the majority of those affected are traders, street vendors and people who have consumed raw and ready-to-eat food from the streets and some markets.
Analysis of food samples from restaurants and food handlers in Soweto market and some street vendors revealed contamination with feacal matter and vibrio cholerae, the bacteria that causes cholera.
In the last two weeks, three traders from Soweto market have died from cholera and 18 are currently under admission in Cholera Treatment Centers.
In view of the aforementioned, the President is deeply concerned at the rampaging advance of the outbreak and he has therefore called in the Defense Forces to join other stakeholders to work with MoH and thoroughly clean up Lusaka.
Affected areas such as Soweto market will be closed from tomorrow to allow for thorough cleaning. In order to facilitate the escalation of the response, all ministries are directed to work closely under the leadership of the Ministry of Health to bring the situation under control.
The measures to be prescribed by the Minister of Health from time to time may include the suspension of street vending in identified areas in order to allow for thorough cleaning, garbage collection and unblocking of drainages widespread decontamination.
There will be broad restrictions in the sale of raw and ready-to-eat foods including fruits, vegetables, meats, chicken, and fish on the streets and trading areas with unsanitary conditions.
The President expects the Defense Forces to work with Ministry of Health, Line ministries to report to him on daily basis on the progress they must make in the coming hours and days.
The President expects traders and the general public to cooperate fully with authorities when the order the closure of Soweto and other markets identified as the epicentre of the epidemic.
The Ministry of Health is also directed to immediately mobilize and deploy health staff to all affected and at-risk areas, to ensure adequate numbers are available to enhance our response and avert any more deaths.
All markets, bars, restaurants and other public places that do not meet the required public health standards and sanitary conditions and pose a risk to further cholera transmission will be closed until they satisfy the required hygiene standards.
The public is strongly urged to avoid and stop buying raw and ready to eat foods from the street and markets in affected areas.
The community deaths recorded since the outbreak was declared is very worrisome and therefore everyone is urged to ensure that those who develop diarrhea, vomiting or indeed not feeling well report to the nearest health facility immediately.
Citizens are further urged to adhere and comply with all the measures as stipulated in the Statutory Instrument Number 79 of 2017 on the control measures designed to arrest the spread of cholera.
The President has this afternoon communicated all these measures and other control interventions to the leadership of the Zambian Military accordingly.