LABOUR and Social Security Minister Joyce Simukoko says government is fully committed to addressing the public health challenges facing the country, especially the burden of tuberculosis.
Speaking during the launch of the Communication and Advocacy Strategy on Tuberculosis and other occupational lung diseases for ex-mine workers in Zambia in Lusaka, Wednesday, Simukoko said that the fight against tuberculosis and other occupational lung diseases had been prioritised by government as witnessed by various interventions being implemented in this area.
“From the onset, I wish to state that government is fully committed to addressing the public health challenges facing the country, especially the burden of TB. The fight against TB and other occupational lung diseases has been prioritised by government as witnessed by various interventions being implemented in the area. One of the interventions is the development of the Communication and Advocacy Strategy, which we are launching today,” Simukoko said.
She said following the adoption of the declaration on TB by heads of state in the SADC region in 2012, Zambia successfully secured funding from the World Bank towards the implementation of the Southern Africa TB and Health Systems support project.
And Simukoko further said government will not relent in ensuring that current and ex – mine workers were regularly screened for TB.
And International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Office director Dr George Okutho said that TB remained a major public health concern in Zambia.
“Tuberculosis remains a major public health concern in Zambia and southern African countries. For example, pulmonary tuberculosis, among underground miners exposed to silica, remains a global problem. The tuberculosis incidence in miners in southern African countries is reportedly the highest among any working population,” Okutho said.
He added that there was need to stress the importance of an effective occupational safety and health regime.
“We cannot, therefore, over-emphasise the importance of an effective occupational safety and health regime, with measurable objectives and also specific to the nature of activity and their sizes,” he said.
Okhtho, however, added that Zambia already had an adequate legal regime and framework to prevent and promote occupational safety and health in the workplace.
“The development of the Communication and Advocacy strategy on tuberculosis and lung disease for ex-miners is a most welcome intervention, but this must be done against a commitment to promote the culture of prevention so that it does not just become a mirage. Luckily enough, Zambia has already adequate legal regime and framework to prevent and promote occupational safety and health in the workplace. These are the Factories Act (Cap 441) and the Occupational and Health Safety Act 36 of 2010.
“The role of both the employers and employees under this legislation is to present a safe and productive work environment for themselves and for the people they come into contact with their families and clients are all spelt out,” said Okhuto.