Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary administration Kennedy Malama says government has released K19 million for cholera response.

And Dr Malama says cholera cases have reached 515 in Lusaka district as of yesterday.

Meanwhile, Dr Malama says government will start procuring HIV self-testing kits in 2018 but has encouraged people to go for routine tests.

At a press briefing today, Dr Malama said the K19 million had been channelled to the Lusaka City Council, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company and the Ministry of Health across all levels.

“As you are aware as a country, from 6th October we declared a cholera outbreak in Lusaka district. As at yesterday night, cumulatively a total of 515 cholera cases had been recorded. As at yesterday, we had a total of 57 under treatment and in the last 24 hours we had 14 new cases. What is key with cholera is that it requires multi sectoral response. We have DMMU involved, Lusaka Water and Sewerage, Lusaka City Council, the private sector and other line ministries. It is not just the Ministry of Health involved. We are emphasizing on the need to ensure sanitation in our areas is improved. We should not expect government or the local authority to do everything, we all have roles,” he said.

“I would like to mention that government through the Ministry of Finance released a total K19 million so far towards this cholera response. And those resources were channelled to Lusaka City Council, Lusaka Water and Sewerage, the Ministry of Health across levels especially provincial level and district levels. What has that money been used for? LCC has the mandate of collecting garbage, clearing places and making sure that pit latrines are attended to and also solid waste management. So that portion was given to them. When you look at Lusaka Water and Sewerage, they have been able to use those monies to provide free water in our vulnerable communities. They have been able to put water tanks and provide free water. So our appeal to our people is to adhere to the key practices of hygiene. Cholera has no boundaries it can affect anyone,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Malama announced that HIV self-testing kits would be procured in 2018 but urged people to still go for testing.

“HIV self-testing kit is good and we will ensure that they are readily available. But don’t wait for an HIV self-testing kit, go to the outlets were you can go and have the HIV test done. It should not be once but every three months. As long as you are having sexual relationships you are at risk. As government we have agreed the HIV self testing has to be flooded and there will be options were you can access them from. So coming in 2018, you will be seeing us do some procurement of the HIV self testing but we are also finalizing the operational framework. We need make sure that we are systematic in terms of the delivery mode. But the key message is that don’t wait for the HIV self kit, there is already the routine test which we used. We can only eliminate HIV by 2030 if every Zambian knew their status,” Dr Malama said.

He further said there was no crisis of ARVs in the country but the shortage at some hospitals was caused by failure to request for the drugs by the people in charge.

“At the moment we have ARV drugs. We have a system called supply chain system. As Ministry of Health, we procure drugs including ARVSs and these drugs are taken to medical stores for storage and distribution. And then the hospitals, districts, provinces do orders through the medical stores. So if a hospital delays to report an order, that may sometimes cause a change on the stock. So when you see that a district has low stocks, it may not always mean that a country has no drugs, it’s because that particular institution did not place an order on time. I would like to warn all provincial health directors, medical superintendents in the country to up their game and ensure they pay particular attention to their stock status and make sure that they submit their reports and orders on time. We are not going to accept a situation where we have the medicines at medical stores and they fail to have the commodity just because of logistical management issues,” Dr Malama said.

He also disclosed that 39 cases of human anthrax had been recorded in Western province though the situation had been contained.

“As you are aware as a country, to date this year we recorded a total of 39 cases of human anthrax. Normally anthrax is a disease of animals. So in Western Province a total of 39 cases have been reported and this has affected Nalolo district, Nsenanga, Shang’ombo, Sioma and Kalabo. What is good is that our response was swift. Ministry of Health worked very closely with other stakeholders, more importantly the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture including traditional leadership. We have continued with active survelliance in Western Province and it is good that in the recent past we haven’t recorded any new case,” he said.

“The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock have also continued vaccinating animals so that we don’t have any more cases of anthrax in animals especially cattle and in human beings. As you may be aware, anthrax is passed from animal to a human being. Normally, it is after handling a sick animal suffering from anthrax or you consume meat which is contaminated with anthrax then a human being can get this disease. We want to assure the nation that as government through Ministry of Health and Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, we are working with various stakeholders to insure that the anthrax situation is contained as it is showing so far. We are also aware that in Muchinga, especially in Chama district, over the past few years we had cases of anthrax. It is good that this year we have not recorded any cases of anthrax. We have continued doing sensitization, a sick animal should not be consumed because you are likely to get the same disease that animal is suffering from,” said Dr Malama.