The United Nations in Zambia, the Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Zambia have described the Cholera Treatment Hospital which was set up by government at the Heroes Stadium as a good initiative and a massive asset in the on-going cholera response and have also commended government for scaling-up preventive interventions in the community. This follows a familiarization tour facilitated by the World Health Organization Country Office through the Ministry of Health to enable partners in health obtain an insight into the cholera outbreak response interventions. The tour was also intended to understand the various needs and challenges in scaling up efforts to end the epidemic. The District Director of Health for Lusaka, Dr. Namani Monze led the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms Janet Rogan, the WHO Representative, Dr. Nathan Bakyaita, the deputy Head of Office of DFID in Zambia, Mr. Andrew Ockenden, Ms. Ruppa Narra from CDC and other officials from the WHO Country Office and UNICEF on a tour of the Cholera Treatment Hospital and a community in Kanyama sub-district which is one of the hardest hit areas.
At the Cholera Treatment Hospital, the Medical Officer in Charge, Dr. Landry Lukisa said that the hospital started operations on 7 January and that it was set up to reduce the morbidity of patients and to improve the treatment operations. He said the centre had dedicated paediatricians, psychiatrists, physicians, surgeons and obstetricians to manage the cholera patients and that a total of 55 doctors, 100 nurses, 97 in-service student doctors,180 volunteers, 15 environmental health officers, 22 laboratory staff and 14 pharmacists were operating at the hospital. He said that since the opening of the hospital, there was a reduction in the number of fatalities and that the quality of service was high due to availability of sufficient human resources and good supply of medicines and other supplies. He said there was a total of 6 ambulances transporting patients to the Cholera Treatment Hospital from the sub-districts including emergency ambulances which were available at the call centre.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Janet Rogan said that the government’s response to the cholera outbreak was very impressive and that government had taken a good initiative to establish the cholera treatment hospital where people were treated well in a clean environment. She said that the cholera outbreak was attributed to the circumstances in the compounds as some people had no alternative sources of water apart from shallow wells some of which were located near to the latrines. Ms Rogan emphasised the importance of preventive measures and sensitization of communities beyond the cholera outbreak and called for strong partnerships with the communities, the government, the UN and other partners. “We have seen the community and the challenges of water and sanitation and where cholera comes from. We don’t want to be sending people to the cholera treatment centres. It is impressive to see people getting clean and safe water from water tanks which have been provided”. She said.
The Deputy Head of the Office of DFID in Zambia, Mr. Andrew Ockenden gave credit to government and other partners who were involved in setting up the Cholera Treatment Hospital and said that it was a “massive asset” in the response. He said that DFID was pleased with the leadership which government had exhibited in the response by bringing the outbreak under control. He said DFID was working to repurpose its support to government in order to help it set up strong systems that could respond effectively to health emergencies.
The World Health Organization has continued providing the needed support and guidance to ensure that critical interventions are put in place in order to stop the cholera epidemic. Speaking in Kanyama after the familiarisation tour, the WHO Representative, Dr. Nathan Bakyaita said that it was important for government to have sufficient supplies for cholera in order to sustain the efficiency in the operations at all the cholera treatment centres. He said good record keeping was key to ensure stocks are always sufficient. Dr. Bakyaita assured government of continued support from WHO working with other partners.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control commended the Ministry of Health for the ensuring that operations at the Cholera Treatment Hospital adhered to recommended guidelines and standards. Dr. Rupa Narra, a medical epidemiologist from CDC said that the operations were in line with the CDC technical recommendations for case management, Infection Prevention and Control practices, water supply and sanitation and hygiene practices.
The partners were also taken to the Lusaka Water Trust offices in Kanyama which is responsible for supply of clean water to the communities. A team of officers from the Lusaka City Council, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit led by the area Councilor led the representatives to the community to show the water services which were being provided, particularly the newly installed 10,000 litre tanks and taps where water was provided free. They also showed the environmental sanitation measures and the areas where the shallow wells were buried. In addition to the interventions on water supply and sanitation, Environmental Health Officers and community volunteers were also deployed in the community to sensitise people about cholera and to distribute chlorine for water treatment using a door to door strategy.
At the end of the tour, the District Director of Health for Lusaka, Dr. Namani Monze, said that he was pleased to see the partners take time to visit the cholera treatment hospital and to get a good insight of the conditions in the community and the interventions which government was executing with their support. He said that partners had played a significant role in supporting the cholera response in the various aspects which include preventive and curative measures. He said that government was appreciative of this solid partnership.
Since the cholera outbreak was declared on 6th October 2017, it has affected more than 3,534 people with more than 77 deaths.
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