HEALTH permanent secretary Kennedy Malama says it will be irresponsible for his ministry to misinform the nation on the cholera figures. Updating the press on the outbreak of cholera yesterday, Dr Malama said the figures being given out by the Ministry of Health were numbers on the ground.
“In my preamble, I referred to social media…social media can be very helpful but at the same time very destructive. There is no way the government, through Ministry of Health, can hide cholera figures…that will be very irresponsible. We have very robust system surveillance on how we are capturing information and the information we are giving you is the information on the ground. But you are aware that in an outbreak, there is what we call confirmed cases and suspected cases. Once someone meets the case definition, they are taken as cholera because the treatment is the same,”
Dr Malama said.
“Trust us, the information we are giving you is what is on the ground. If we see that there was a misclassification, we are going to adjust and share accordingly. But we want to vehemently dispute the fact that government, through Ministry of Health, is hiding figures. That will be very irresponsible of us…including deaths…we wouldn’t hide.”
He also said the number of doses for the oral cholera vaccination was not enough to cater for the whole Lusaka at the moment.
“The oral cholera vaccination has seen unprecedented positive response since we started. On day one alone, places like Kanyama we were able to reach about 22 per cent of the targeted group…day two the same. In fact, we do have an indication that some people are moving from areas which are not part of the recommended areas to go and access the vaccine. The total number of doses we have wouldn’t suffice to cater for the whole Lusaka, that is why we have said we restrict it to the areas affected by the outbreak. But we are also saying there are some vulnerable groups whom we have to make sure that they get the vaccination like the children, elderly, health workers and other people working with the communities. We shall allow others to access the vaccine immediately it is available” Dr Malama said.
Meanwhile the ministry has continued to record new cholera cases in Lusaka and other towns.
The figures now stand at 3, 077 cases with 70 deaths cumulatively.
“Today, January 12, 2018 as at 06:00 hours this (yesterday) morning, Lusaka had recorded a total of 87 new cholera cases distributed as follows: 14 children and 73 adults. Total number of people under treatment is 182. It is also important to note that of the182 cases, 47 are admitted to the cholera treatment units and 135 at the Heroes stadium which is our main cholera treatment centre. It is also important to note that cumulatively, Lusaka has recorded 2, 927 cases of which 2, 664 have successfully been treated and discharged as at today 06:00 hours this morning,” said Dr Malama.
“Let me also stated that cumulatively, the death toll in Lusaka stands at 65 with one death recorded in the last 24 hours. It’s important to note that the people we are losing are coming from different parts of Lusaka but as you are aware, the epicentres are Chipata, Kanyama, Chawama, and Bauleni. Of the deaths we gave recorded in Lusaka, 38 have occurred in the communities. Immediately you see someone unwell at home or at work, take them to the nearest health facility. It is sad to lose someone from cholera because we know that it is preventable. We have also recorded three suspected cases in the last 24 hours in other parts of the country one in Pemba and two in Senanga.”
Meanwhile, Zamtel has donated items worth K250,000 for distribution to all treatment centres set up by the Inter Ministerial Taskforce on Cholera. Zamtel will also be sending Cholera awareness messages to its subscribers via SMS as a way of further contributing to preventing the spread of the disease.
The donated items include protective clothing such as work suits, gum boots and face masks and disinfectants such as liquid soaps, liquid chlorine and hand sanitisers mainly for health workers and officials at the Cholera Treatment Centres. Other donated items are cleaning tools such as wheelbarrows, shovels and industrial hand gloves.
Zamtel has also donated 150 (120-litre) capacity waste bins that would be placed in strategic locations in major cities to support the efforts to keep Zambia clean and healthy.
The donations were handed over to Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr Kennedy Malama by a team of Zamtel officials led by Corporate Communications manager Kennedy Mambwe.