Down, down goes cholera

ZAMBIANS countrywide must remain resolutely alert in preventing new cholera infections even in the light of the drastic reduction in disease burden.

The daily trend analysis has shown a marked reduction in new infections by about 50 per cent in Lusaka after a three-month-long battle in which men and women in uniform have been involved.

Health ministry, local authorities, Government agencies, private sector and the citizens at large must not succumb to any hue of complacency at any one time, but must instead sustain the tempo for the country to remain clean and disease-free.

This should mark the turning-point in maintaining high levels of hygiene in all areas while Government agencies must henceforth bolster their operations for efficiency to take root.

Already, Government has announced an ambitious blueprint to upgrade sprawling townships in the urban setting and roll out the exercise to other areas of the country.

More than 5, 000 housing units are earmarked for construction alongside other Government and private housing projects in the country to reduce the 1.5 million accommodation deficit.

It is worth noting that the Seventh National Development Plan has a chapter on establishing inclusive cities in Zambia.

Additionally, the Town and Country Planning Act of 1963 and the Housing Areas Act of 1974 have been repealed and replaced with the more responsive Urban and Regional Planning Act of 2015.

Thirdly, Zambia has partnered with the United States government to improve the water and sanitation in Lusaka through the Millennium Challenge Account. Many other interventions are in place.

However, there is a compelling need for the government and its agencies to actualise these long-term interventions through intensely-monitored implementation processes. They should not remain cosmetic concepts on paper.

While Government and the local authorities are working to expand markets and establishing new ones in the urban locations, this exercise must also be extended to rural areas as a proactive measure.

In the next few years, trade and commerce will surge in the rural outposts; what with the countrywide infrastructure development which is opening up all areas.

Also of profound importance, is the urgent need to build capacity in the councils, which have suffered chronic deficiencies all-round.

The councils still remain the fulcrum of all public health activities in the country, but most of them have been baying for oxygen on the death bed because of acute inefficiencies and generally lack of resources.

Garbage collection, settlement planning and health inspections are important responsibilities which fall under the ambit of the local authorities. However, the sing-song in many councils is allocation of plots – legally and illegally.

Therefore, local authorities need transformation into viable and efficient entities that will be able carry out heavy duties and responsibilities with aplomb.

In the meantime, there must be a change of mind-set among citizens for them to habour a sense of responsibility and ownership of all national programmes as opposed to keeping a safe distance and always apportioning blame on Government.

There has been an erroneous impression that Government is a group of ministers.

Government has three arms – legislature, judiciary and the executive.  Legislature has Parliament which is also composed of members from the opposition and ruling party. By extension, both the governing and the governed are part of Government.

This, therefore, means that opposition party leaders, those from the ruling party and the general citizens must take part in national programmes such as the general cleaning and disease prevention exercise.

The cholera outbreak which has afflicted 3, 300 people is thus a national concern which must be fought from all fronts and in doing so the ordinary citizens are an integral part.

Naturally, there are always dissenting voices even towards a deserving cause, but those at variance with logic should give space to the voice of reasoning.

We are aware that there are populist elements in the political space trying in vain to whip up emotions on straightforward matters. It is a clear sign of bitterness!

Let’s place national interests first.

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