HEALTH Minister Sylva Masebo says government intends to construct health posts at border ports to help control infectious diseases.

Giving a ministerial statement in Parliament on the measures being taken to control the measles outbreak in Mushindamo District, North Western Province, Tuesday, Masebo said the Zambian government would collaborate with other neighbouring countries to vaccinate not only Zambians, but everyone in border towns.

“Zambia generally is land linked, it borders with a number of countries and we notice that it is mainly in these border areas that we are getting various diseases which are crossing. We will be interacting with various Ministers of Health in these specific borders so that we work hard together to ensure that diseases are controlled and also that the issue of surveillance is also improved upon. Speaking for Zambia in particular, we are looking at ensuring that we start looking at putting up health posts in a number of these ports so that there is control and also, there is prevention and [that] some of the activities which are happening in the mainland can be happening along those borders. It is in our interest as a country that we vaccinate not only people on the Zambian side but all those who are along the borders. This has to be done in collaboration with the member states that are sharing borders with Zambia,” she said.

“As stated, one way we are looking at is to construct clinics in the catchment areas to improve access and to limit the cross border interactions on the Zambian side to the other side which is the DRC and also to tighten border controls in the area so that there is some form of control around the border.”

She said the Ministry had scaled measles immunisation in Mushindano, among other measures.

“The district health office teams supported by the provincial health office and the Zambia National Public Health Institute have implemented the following response activities. (1) Health promotion and education on preventive measures; (2) Contact tracing and monitoring of the contacts; (3) Measles immunisations of children under five children in Kashiba Community area of Mushindamo catchment area; (4) Risk assessment and mapping of the nearby communities; (5) case search in the two affected communities; (6) Samples collection of other suspected cases meeting the standard case definition of suspected measles. The House may wish to note thot given the challenges of long rural distances to be covered, poor roads and lack of appropriate transportation and insufficient health workforce, the above effort is less than optimal,” Masebo said.

Masebo said the Ministry was mobilising about K137,317 for a comprehensive response against the measles outbreak in that area.

“The Zambia National Public Health Institute, working with the provincial health team, have made a rapid assessment and is currently mobilising the needed ZMW137,317 for a comprehensive response. This plan will involve a surge of the health workforce, mass immunisation of all children under 15 years in the affected area and along the border. Active case search will be done and all
area in need of treatment will be catered for,” said Masebo.

“Madam Speaker, allow me to conclude by stating that vaccination is the one sure way we can control measles. I am hopeful that our capable workforce will do their best to contain this situation. Meanwhile, I urge members of this August House to encourage communities to take their children for vaccination. Together we can control Measles.”