The Public Health Association of Zambia (PHAZ) says President Edgar Lungu took a bold stance by declaring street vending illegal in areas affected by cholera because it facilitates indiscriminate disposal of waste.

And PHAZ president Maimpa Mumba has observed that the cholera cases which as of Friday stood at 2,262, were alarming and most likely to get out of control.

He added that the cholera outbreak was a serious public health challenge which called for total stakeholder engagement.

This is according to a PHAZ position paper on the 2017 to 2018 cholera outbreak in Zambia issued on Friday.

“We would like to put it clear that the germ which causes Cholera (Vibrio Cholerae) is facilitated by poor water supply and sanitation situations and poor hygiene practices. We are aware that this outbreak has continued to spread to several townships in Lusaka with some isolated cases reported in other parts of the country. We are also privy to the reports that cumulatively, the number of deaths as at today, is around 51 while total infections are at least 2,262, with Lusaka alone recording over 90 percent of all cases; so far at 2,205, with over140 incidences recorded over the past 24 hours. In the presence of the various interventions reported to be in place, this is alarming and most likely to get out of control” Mumba stated.

“PHAZ would like to acknowledge and applaud the interventions so far implemented by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Water development, Sanitation and Environmental protection, other government line departments and other valued Stakeholders. Most importantly, we would like to sincerely appreciate the bold stance taken by the Head of state President Edgar Lungu to, among other pronouncements, declare street vending illegal in Lusaka and other parts affected by Cholera as well as for personally showing Political will by coming out to see for himself and taking the lead in the cleanup operation.”

Mumba observed that cholera was a serious public health challenge which called for stakeholder engagement.

“It is a notorious fact that uncontrolled street vending is a major facilitator of indiscriminate disposal of both solid and liquid waste. PHAZ would like to concur with all those who may have already recorded a voice that Cholera outbreak is a serious public health challenge which calls for total stakeholder engagement. Further, the control measures being put up in this outbreak must also include those that will help prevent future occurrences,” he stated.

“We would like to remind Government and Zambia at large that our country has enough and adequate Public Health Policies and legislation to contain and prevent cholera and indeed any other common outbreaks. We call upon the Institutions mandated to provide clean and safe water for domestic use and the improvement of sanitation to do so as a long term solution not just in response to the current outbreak.”

He stated that short term measures to contain and prevent cholera included; increase of epi facilities and manpower, massive compound cleanup and cholera vaccinations, among others.

“For short term measures; (1) We call upon the Ministry of Health to increase the number of Cholera response centres and manpower in the compounds most at risk. (2) We urge Lusaka City Council to initiate clean ups in all compounds of Lusaka like what has been done in the central business district of Lusaka. It must include disinfection of all possible contaminated areas and pit latrines, burying all shallow wells and filled up refuse pits. In addition, we urge LCC to enforce the ban and guard against street vending even in the compounds, countrywide, until further notice; (3) Mount cholera exit points out of Lusaka. (4) Massive cholera vaccinations. And (5) Discourage the population from eating from restaurants,” he stated.

“Medium and long Term Measures; (1) Provide water and improved sanitation for each household in the compounds and towns in general. (2) Behaviour change communication for hygiene promotion. (3) Strengthened community participation in health promotion. We call for the establishment of strengthened community based public health structures one such could be the Community Hygiene Task Force. (4) Demolish or gazette shanty compounds. Littering must be guarded against and stiffer by-laws must be made and enforced against the vice. (5) Mandatory waste disposal facilities in all public service vehicles and bus stops. (6) Sustainable management and securing of land- fills and dumping sites. (7) Improve water and sanitation facilities at Intercity and all major stations. (8) In addition, we encourage recycling or reuse of waste as well as propose the ban of plastic bags in Zambia. Investing in these interventions can drastically lower the amount of non-biodegradable waste. (9) Enhanced Public Health Surveillance and Research. (10) Operationalise the Public Health Structure.”

He also called for the prevention of rural-urban drift.

“We also wish to submit that proper town and country planning consideration as well as measures to prevent rural-urban drift must be at the core of every development agenda by the relevant authorities and Stakeholders,” stated Mumba.