Zambia declared a cholera outbreak on 6th October, 2017 after two laboratory confirmed cases were recorded from Mazyopa area in Chipata sub-district in Lusaka district. The outbreak has since spread to other sub-districts within Lusaka and to Chongwe and Shibuyunji districts in Lusaka province including the Copperbelt and Central provinces. The outbreak is affecting people of different age groups including children under the age of five with more than 650 cases and 20 deaths recorded.
In its continued efforts to support the cholera response and in particular, the management of cases, the World Health Organization Country Office donated four cholera kits which are sufficient to treat up to 1600 persons. The contents of the kits include oral rehydration salts, rehydration fluids, antibiotics, gumboots, aprons and cadaver bags among others. When presenting the kits to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health on 6 December 2017, the WHO Representative, Dr Nathan Bakyaita, said that WHO was committed to helping Zambia mitigate the current outbreak and that through its collaborative project on emergency preparedness with DFID, WHO had ordered additional 10 cholera kits which included more items such as tents and patient beds. He also said that WHO had provided technical support in developing a plan for the Oral Cholera Vaccine campaign which will be launched in December 2017 targeting populations residing in the high risk areas. Dr. Bakyaita advocated for implementation of long-term solutions such as provision of safe water and sanitation in the affected communities.
When receiving the cholera kits, the Permanent Secretary responsible for Administration at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Kennedy Malama who was speaking on behalf of the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Chitalu Chilufya said that the Ministry of Health was grateful for the continued support WHO was providing to the government in addressing health challenges such as the on-going cholera outbreak.
The Cholera response in the country has been anchored on a multi-sectoral approach. The Ministers from Local Government, Environment Water & Sanitation, the Vice President’s office and the local area Member of Parliament who is also the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources were present at the hand over. In their speeches, the ministers emphasised the importance of implementing both short-term and long-term measures aimed at solving the water supply, sanitation and hygiene challenges of the affected areas. The government has committed to improving garbage collection, desludging of latrines, provision of clean water free of charge to the affected communities including community education and mobilisation. The Managing Director of the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, the Provincial Medical Team and senior directors from the MOH headquarters were also present at the handover ceremony.