WHILE more than 500 people have lost their lives countrywide from the Cholera epidemic that broke out last October, Simon Chomba, a resident of Lusaka’s George Compound counts himself lucky to have survived to tell the tale.
Chomba who survived cholera along with a cousin from the same household credits government for his survival.
According to him, the government was working very hard and managing to do its job because government health workers have been going around the community distributing chlorine, administering vaccines and teaching people how to prevent contracting cholera.
“The government is doing what it needs to do so that this disease lessens and doesn’t kill so many more people. They are giving people chlorine and vaccines and teaching them how to look after themselves. It would be even better if we, the people, added our efforts and worked together with the government. We should not leave everything for the government to do,” advised Chomba.
Chomba, who narrated how he and two cousins came down with cholera on 30 December 2023, says the quick action he took to seek medical care immediately after experiencing a sudden tummy upset followed by diarrhea and vomiting because he had heard the advice on the radio.
Sadly, one of the cousins succumbed to cholera on 2 January 2024, while Chomba and the other cousin survived despite having feared the worst.
Sophia Nangoyi Phiri, a zone leader in George Compound, has equally commended the government, especially for providing the vaccine and sensitization messages to help protect many people from contracting cholera.
Phiri said many children and adults in her community had taken the oral vaccine and that she had taken it upon herself to show leadership by being among the first to be vaccinated as soon as the government health workers reached her compound.
“We didn’t know that cholera had hit our area because people were hiding their illness, they wouldn’t disclose. Then we saw a lot of people dying in our compound. When we saw the sensitization messages on television advising people to visit a healthcare facility immediately after they experienced certain symptoms, we realized that it was cholera that many of the sick and dying had contracted. It was then that I started going around the community to sensitize people,” explained Phiri.
She attributed the death of many people in her community to their failure to promptly seek medical treatment preferring instead to use homemade concoctions.
Phiri disclosed that the compound was hard hit but that the government has greatly helped them, and since the vaccine was administered, the disease incidence in her community has greatly improved.
“I think the disease is lessening, so my word to those that haven’t been vaccinated is that we want it (cholera) to end so please follow the guidelines given by the government. We were told that the government would bring medicine on 15 January and that everyone must take it to protect themselves, so we must follow the advice, or we might get sick,” Phiri emphasized.
Despite losing his nephew to the disease, Lusaka businessman Andrew Kazadi says while the government is doing its best to combat the disease, citizens should also play their part.
“The government is working round the clock to contain the situation and for that, we are thankful. As a people, we also have to help the the situation by ensuring that we live in clean environments,” he advises.
Zambia is among more than 40 countries currently battling cholera and has recorded more than 14,000 cases since October 2023 with nearly 600 dead. About 1.8 million citizens in the designated disease hotspots have received the oral vaccine since inoculation began two weeks ago.
The government has introduced strict social gathering measures to curb the disease from spreading and has delayed the reopening of schools for the new school year, while it enforces hygiene and sanitation in residential and business premises, including markets, some of which are being shut down. Sensitization and teaching of communities are also going on, as is the provision of clean water in the worst-hit residential areas.
Kalemba January 31, 2024