THE Ministry of Health should identify foods which the public can consume to boost their immune system in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, says the Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance (CSO-SUN).

In a statement, Monday, CSO-SUN country coordinator Mathews Mhuru stated that there had been little communication about which foods could help people boost their immune system, especially the aged and those with underlying conditions such as Asthma.

“CSO-SUN is urging authorities and other stakeholders to include consumption of healthy diet in the messages being packaged and disseminated to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zambia. Although experts have advised that strong immune systems can help the body fight the COVID-19 virus, there has been little talk about consuming foods that can help people boost their immune systems, especially the aged and those with underlying conditions, such as Asthma,” Mhuru stated.

“As Zambia battles this pandemic, it is CSO-SUN’s hope that our nutritionists and all stakeholders, including the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) and the Ministry of Health, can identify foods, which they can encourage the public to consume in order to boost their immune system. To this effect, the CSO-SUN and its partners are embarking on a sensitization campaign to promote good nutrition and wellness as this will reduce the impact of COVID-19 on underlying conditions, which suppress the immune system.”

Mhuru observed that weak immunity of an infected person could lead to death

“It is our hope that the National Food and Nutrition Commission can also start mobilizing stakeholders to be prepared, especially if the country gets to a point where a food response is inevitable. Other countries have food banks to support families that do not have food during such times. Other factors, such as being physically active, managing stress and getting enough sleep are critical to keeping one’s immune system strong. Experts have indicated that weak immunity of an infected person can actually lead to death,” he added.

And Mhuru called on the Ministry of Local Government to ban street vending to combat the spread of the deadly virus.

“Zambians must, therefore, embrace advice from health care providers, such as the need to stay home for those that can work from home and regularly washing hands with soap, as well as social distancing in order to prevent the spread of the pandemic. However, authorities, especially the Ministry of Local Government, need to take stringent measures that will help prevent the spread of the pandemic, such as banning street vending where money is exchanging hands without any precautions,” urged Mhuru.

“This will encourage the public to safely shop, order, and prepare food in a way that minimizes transmission of the COVID-19. Food packaging that comes into contact with the virus due to coughing or sneezing from an infected person can be a source of infection as the COVID-19 can survive on surfaces and objects for a certain amount of time. It is also important to note that allowing street vending to continue in our streets that currently lack hygiene facilities, such as toilets, will not help in curbing the spread of the disease.”