Tears of joy replace death announcements as Hichilema honors fallen heroes, rewards volunteers

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FOR the first time in weeks, cheers resonated through the National Heroes Cholera Center, replacing the usual dejection following death announcements.

The reason? President Hakainde Hichilema’s unexpected blessing: permanent jobs for all volunteers battling the cholera outbreak.

This announcement yesterday marked a pivotal moment in Zambia’s fight against the disease.

When the Head of State first visited the center last month, it overflowed with patients, with a daily death toll of about 30. Today, only 65 souls remained, none succumbing to the illness for 10 consecutive days.

This was commendable work that President Hichilema could not overlook.

He praised the volunteers who bravely joined the “war” against cholera.

With the promise of organized and prudent recruitment, his decree sent shockwaves of joy through the center. The jubilant cheers could have even revived a patient!

“I am directing that all the volunteers should be given permanent jobs!,” said President Hichilema.

But the celebration wasn’t limited to Heroes Center. President Hichilema ensured his directive applied to all volunteers nationwide, urging officials to maintain the integrity of the volunteer database.

“So colleagues, Minister of health (Silvia Masebo), other ministers, DMMU (Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit), all of us, can we ensure that the database of volunteers is not altered.”

“We do not want the list from tonight to start changing, if you change the list, you will see for yourself and will be supprised,” cautioned the President.

His words held deeper meaning as he offered condolences to two healthcare workers who succumbed to the virus while volunteering, and to families who lost loved ones.

“I am told one of the medical staffs passed on in the line of duty, somebody who worked in Chilenje Clinic.”

“We lost many lives, it doesn’t mean the lives of the medical staffs is more important than the lives of the 600 plus, no, life is life but some people choose to stand in the line of danger when others ran away,” added President Hichilema.

To bolster protection, the government vaccinated 3,793 health workers. Yet, the fight continues with a total death toll of 622, many arriving already deceased.

The message is clear: don’t delay! If your child or loved one shows signs of diarrhoea or vomiting, seek immediate medical attention. Cholera doesn’t wait, but neither does Zambia’s fight against it.

By Buumba Mwitumwa

Kalemba February 5, 2024

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