Zambian President Urges Urban Relocation to Curb Cholera Outbreak

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has called on people to consider relocating from towns to villages in response to a cholera outbreak that has claimed about 300 lives. President Hichilema cited poor sanitation in densely populated urban areas as a contributing factor to the outbreak. He emphasized the need for residents to move to rural areas with ample space and “perfect sanitation” to decongest major towns.

Since October, more than 7,500 cholera cases have been reported nationwide, with over 500 new cases and 17 deaths in the last 24 hours alone. The health ministry has implemented preventive measures, including a delay in the reopening of schools. The outbreak has affected eight out of Zambia’s ten provinces.

In an effort to contain the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) plans to send approximately one million doses of cholera vaccine in the coming days. President Hichilema visited the Heroes Stadium Cholera Treatment Centre in the capital, Lusaka, where over 1,000 patients are being treated. He announced that the government would take “hard to swallow” measures to eradicate the waterborne disease.

President Hichilema seemed to attribute the proliferation of poorly planned informal settlements in urban areas to some Zambians who moved to towns without a clear objective. He encouraged young people to consider moving to rural areas for farming, where there is abundant land and clean water.

To address the issue, the government plans to upgrade existing slums in towns and prevent the emergence of new ones. Neighboring Mozambique and Zimbabwe are heightening surveillance to prevent cross-border transmission. Zimbabwe has been grappling with cholera for months due to a lack of clean water. Cholera is a bacterial disease spread through contaminated water or food, causing severe dehydration and potentially leading to death within hours if left untreated.

Quest: Cris-Edesiri Odjomah

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