Traditional beliefs in DRC hampering fight against cholera in Chiengi

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Health authorities in Chiengi district have disclosed that government’s efforts to curb the outbreak of Cholera in the area were being hampered by villagers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) side.

Chiengi District Clinical Officer Thomas Tembo said government has put in place mitigation measures on the Zambian side but these were hampered by villagers across the border.

Mr. Tembo said one of the measures which the Zambia side was implementing was burying all people who die as a result of cholera within 24 hours after their demise.

He said this was however not working well across on the DRC as most of the ethnic groups and tribes there were finding it abominable not to mourn their dead cholera victims.

ZANIS reports that Mr. Tembo said this when Deputy Minister of Health Christopher Mulenga and his delegation toured the district last week.

So far 100 cases of cholera have been recorded in the district and two people have since died.

He said the first two cases that were detected were from DRC and Nchelenge district, respectively, which are both cholera endemic areas.

Mr. Tembo said four environmental health teams were already in place to curb any case of cholera while community sensitizations were ongoing.

He added that village and sanitary inspections in affected areas have been put in place while water sampling and testing were also being applied.

Mr. Tembo has since suggested that Zambia should send a team of health personnel to neighbouring DRC where he said that the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was already applying a preventive method of adding chlorine to water.

And government has hailed the District Health Management Team (DHMT) in the area for its efforts towards bringing the spread of cholera under control.

Deputy Minister of Health Christopher Mulenga said during the same meeting that government was happy with the control measures employed so far by the District Commissioner’s office in collaboration with the DHMT.

And Mr. Mulenga has told the local leadership in the area that Chiengi district will have its own district hospital with qualified medical personal and equipment to provide quality health services to the people.

Meanwhile, Chiengi District Council Secretary Bryson Kamuchima said the district was calm despite the cholera outbreak in the area.

Mr. Kamuchima however expressed concern at the dilapidated state of the Nchelenge-Chiengi road which he said needed government’s attention urgently.