Country men and women, let's step up cholera interventions!

The nation is confronted with a ferocious public health enemy in this cholera epidemic. The death toll is unacceptably high.

Let's, therefore, enhance evidence informed leadership and coordination of a multi sectoral response. It’s time for unity of purpose to halt this outbreak and save lives.

I commiserate with all families that lost beloved ones; l salute the fallen nurse warrior who succumbed at the frontline, while fighting to save lives. 

As l salute the efforts of the frontline workforce and all stakeholders, l urge the government to consider enhancing the following areas:

1. Strengthen leadership and enhance a multi sectoral response in this public health war.

2. Trigger and strengthen epidemic preparedness and response committees at national and subnational levels. 

3. Through the Zambia National Public Health Institute, trigger emergency response systems and coordinate with all stakeholders to sufficiently respond to the cholera outbreak. 

4. Thoroughly define this epidemic, map the epicenters and potential hotspots, and identify factors fueling the epidemic.

5. ⁠Urgently step up health promotion activities to sensitize the public on personal and collective measures to avoid contracting cholera and to seek treatment early when infected. All media and communication platforms need to be engaged and triggered. 

6. ⁠Escalate upstream interventions to address the determinants of the disease and upscale community level interventions to halt new infections. This should involve, inter alia, provision of adequate fresh water for consumption in epicenters, thorough cleaning of environments, including trading areas and other congregate settings; improving sanitation; hyper chlorination of water sources, aggressive sensitization on personal hygiene, washing hands, drinking boiled cooled water, and eating well cooked foods. 

7. Engage partners and urgently procure cholera vaccines and conduct mass vaccination in all hotspots. This will confer some protection while you attend to primary determinants.

8. Discourage overcrowding and stop public gatherings for funerals for cholera victims. 

9. Improve case management to deal with the case load and stop the deaths. 

10. Improve logistics for surveillance, early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

11. Enhance laboratory investigations and monitor key trends. 

12. Train, retrain and deploy adequate human capital to provide community based public health interventions, to stop new infections, and for case management to halt the deaths now. 

13. Timeously issue statutory instruments to identify adequate infrastructure to treat patients in environments that are spacious, clean, well equipped.

14. Ensure optimal infection prevention measures to protect patients and staff. 

15. Improve data management to monitor the evolution of the epidemic and inform the response appropriately. 

I emphasize the need for enhanced leadership for a coordinated multi sectoral response to stop this ferocious assault on our public health security. Unity of purpose is cardinal.

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