Zambia Battles 31st Cholera Outbreak, Over 64 Lives Lost
Government Implements Measures to Control the Waterborne Disease
Lusaka, Zambia - Zambia is currently grappling with its 31st cholera outbreak since 1977, with over 64 lives lost, according to the country's Minister of Health, Sylvia Masebo, writes Kennedy Phiri.
In a recent media briefing held in the capital city of Lusaka, Mrs. Masebo confirmed that four more people had died from cholera within the past 24 hours.
The total number of recorded cases now stands at over 2,500, raising concerns that the arrival of the rainy season may exacerbate the situation.
To combat the outbreak, the Zambian government launched an oral cholera vaccination campaign in February 2022.
The campaign aimed to vaccinate over one million eligible individuals aged one year and above in Lusaka, as well as 11 cholera-prone districts in the country.
The goal is to eliminate the disease by 2025, aligning with the global target of 2030.
To support the vaccination campaign, the government procured over 5.8 million doses of the cholera vaccines.
However, despite these efforts, sanitation and environmental health conditions remain compromised in many of Lusaka's sprawling compounds, where the majority of cases have been recorded.
Health authorities are urging residents to restrict their movements to prevent further spread.
Mrs. Masebo recently emphasized the gravity of the cholera outbreak, stating that it poses a threat to Zambia's health security.
The outbreak has primarily affected Lusaka, but cases have also been reported in the Eastern Province bordering Malawi, where fatalities have occurred.
Health authorities are increasingly concerned that the disease may spiral out of control as the rainy season intensifies, leading to even worse sanitation and health conditions.
The current situation in Lusaka is characterized by poor garbage collection, blocked drainages, and limited access to safe drinking water.
Some residents are forced to rely on shallow wells, which serve as breeding grounds for the waterborne disease, often referred to as the "disease of the poor."
The Zambian government attributes the latest cholera outbreak to factors such as population growth, migration, and climate change.
In the previous cholera outbreak in 2017/2018, over 6,000 cases and 50 deaths were recorded in Zambia.
Globally, cholera imposes a significant economic burden, estimated at $26 billion annually.
This cost includes expenses related to emergency response, lost productivity, and loss of life.
The Zambian government remains committed to implementing measures to control the cholera outbreak and protect public health.