Green Party leaders Peter Sinkamba says Zambia will not see a lot of measures being taken to completely eliminate the cholera epidemic until government implements the waste management strategy.
And Sinkamba says it is regrettable that government waited until people started dying of the epidemic before moving in to implement protective measures to arrest the situation.
Speaking to News Diggers in an interview, Sinkamba noted that the implementation of the waste management strategy which was currently with the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) would culminate into improved sanitation conditions for people of Zambia.
“The state took long to intervene in the cholera situation but again this is a matter to do with implementation of the waste management strategy. Without implementing the waste management strategy, it becomes extremely difficult to have short term, medium and long term measures implemented as it were in a reactive mode. So unless and until they implement the waste management strategy which is with ZEMA at the moment, we will not see a lot of measures being implemented because even the strategy must be financed through the national budget and then monies will go towards sanitation activities. That is the only way you can resolve this issue,” Sinakamba said.
He wondered why the PF government abandoned the waste management strategy which late president Frederick Chiluba put in place after the deadly outbreak in 1990.
“After we had a cholera outbreak in Kitwe which killed over 1000 people between 1990 and 1991, there was a national policy which was put in place, it was called ‘the cholera preparedness strategy’ where there were cholera preparedness committees from district to national level. These were committees which ensured that there was no cholera epidemic which had to occur in any locality and this was not only in Lusaka, it was the whole country. These committees also ensured that people complied with the guidelines that were set up. The preparedness committees ran from 1990 to 1991 but when there was a change of government in 2001 when Chiluba was removed and then Mwanawasa came on board, we started seeing recklessness in the way the government was supporting the strategies. This became worse when PF came on board because now it’s like they are abandoning whatever initiative was in place,” Sinkamba observed.
“To be honest, if those measures which were put in place way back had not been discontinued or if they can be revived from this point forward, we would not have had a situation of cholera like that which happened in Lusaka where we have had so many people who lost their lives and so many affected. This is really regrettable, it’s so sad and shameful for us as nation that we should be able to subject ourselves to such kind of scenario and I hope that there are lessons to learn from this episode.”
Meanwhile, Sinkamba expressed hope that Zambians would develop positive behavioural change toward good hygiene.
“I think some of the measures have worked well and the Lusaka we have now is not what we had two months ago. So I think the interventions have worked well so far and I can see now that every place that we walk in, people were washing their hands. So if that becomes a culture, I think it can be a good thing because we have had situations were people go to the toilet in this country and come back without washing hands – that’s the typical behaviour of an ordinary Zambian. So if that becomes part and parcel of the Zambian culture, which is the case elsewhere in the world, then it can be a good thing,” said Sinkamba.