WITH less than 25 days before the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in Livingstone and Victoria Falls town from August 24 to 29, 2013, preparations for this prestigious event have intensified in Zambia’s tourist capital.
So far, most infrastructural projects which the Government embarked in Livingstone to facilitate the co-hosting of the UNWTO conference have either been completed or currently being finalised ahead of the event.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts has continued engaging the local communities in Livingstone townships to appreciate the benefits of hosting the UNWTO General Assembly.
As part of the preparations for the UNWTO conference, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts has been working closely with other line ministries such as the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health where several activities have been lined up to ensure a clean and healthy nation for sustainable tourism.
One such activity earmarked for Livingstone before, during and beyond the UNWTO General Assembly is a campaign for cleanliness and community health check-ups.
The free medical check-ups, which are targeted for Livingstone residents and visitors to the tourist capital, include cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and AIDS, eye and dental among others.
This programme would run from July 31 to August 4, 2013 at Mulwani Basic School and from August 5 to August 11 this year at St Raphael’s Secondary School in Livingstone.
Further, the Livingstone General Hospital and Mosi-oa-tunya Clinic would be providing similar medical check-ups from July 30, 2013 to beyond the UNWTO General Assembly.
According to Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo, health has a direct correlation to tourism and economic development, hence the introduction of the free medical check-ups in Zambia’s tourist capital.
Ms Masebo, who is the host minister for the UNWTO meeting, has since urged all Livingstone residents and those living in the surrounding areas to go for medical check-ups in the city so that they could know their status.
On Wednesday, this week, First Lady Christine Kaseba-Sata launched the “Keep Livingstone Clean and Healthy For Sustained Tourism” campaign at Mulwani Basic School in Livingstone in readiness for the UNWTO General Assembly and beyond.
Ms Masebo, Health Minister Joseph Kasonde, Community Development Mother and Child Health Minister Joseph Katema and Southern Province Minister Daniel Munkombwe attended the launch.
Other notable dignitaries who were present during the launch were Health Permanent Secretary Peter Mwaba, Southern Province Permanent Secretary Bernard Namachila, University Teaching Hospital (UTH) managing director Lackson Kasonka, Livingstone Member of Parliament Lawrence Evans, Livingstone District Commissioner Omar Munsanje, Kazungula District Commissioner Pascalina Musokotwane, Livingstone Mayor Aggrey Njekwa, Livingstone Town Clerk Vivian Chikoti, several medical doctors and nurses as well as Livingstone residents.
Dr Kaseba, who is the patron of the fight against cancer and the mother of the nation, kick-started the health check-ups and cleanliness campaign in Livingstone.
She toured and inspected the mobile health centres which have been mounted at Mulwani Basic School ground in Livingstone and also participated in removing garbage at Mbita Market in Namatama Ward.
Speaking when she launched the campaign Dr Kaseba said there was need to make Livingstone a clean and healthy city.
“Our country, in particular the city of Livingstone, will be playing host to thousands of visitors many of whom will be coming to Zambia for the first time.
“As these visitors embark on their trips to Zambia, they should do so confidently and comfortably knowing that their lives are not at risk from any communicable disease,” Dr Kaseba said.
She said Livingstone needed to be clean so that people would be free to eat food being provided by various eating places without fear contamination and food poisoning.
“As our visitors go back to their respective countries, let Livingstone and Zambia be on their lips because of the positive experience they would have had in our country.
“Let Livingstone be remembered as a clean town with people who are health-conscious,” Dr Kaseba said.
She appealed to all community leaders, the church leadership, all civil societies, and all those in leadership at all levels to encourage people to have regular check-ups, exercise a bit, keep their surroundings clean and keep away from alcohol and tobacco.
The Zambia’s First Lady said following the above requirements was a culture that must be inculcated in the nation for citizens to live healthy lives.
“I wish to call on all of us, men and women, to take advantage of the medical screening points that are available in Livingstone.
It is my sincere hope that even after this month long activities, the people of Livingstone will lead the way in sustaining the healthy city concept,” Dr Kaseba said.
According to Dr Kaseba, who is a gynaecologist, cancer has continued robbing Zambia of the human capital with women being the hardest hit by this unprecedented rise in cancer incidence.
“I speak on cancer of the cervix because as a gynaecologist, this is the cancer that gives me sleepless nights and I was moved by the despair and hopelessness in my patient’s eyes and that picture drives me to prevent another woman going through the torment.
Cancer of the cervix is preventable and can be cured if discovered early,” she said.
As a mother of the nation, Dr Kaseba said she had been compelled to ensure that the country set up many cervical cancer clinics as possible to ensure that women have access to early screening leading to early treatment.
Dr Kaseba was keen to see to it that every woman in Zambia had access to affordable and quality health care provision in as far as cervical cancer treatment was concerned.
“I wish to assure my fellow women in Zambia that they can count on my voice in the fight against this deadly disease and I will use every opportunity to advocate enhanced screening and treatment of cancers that afflict our people. For the men, they don’t need to feel neglected. The father of the nation President Michael Sata challenged the medical fraternity to put in place screening for prostate cancer.
“I am proud standing here to tell you that the cancer disease hospital has started screening and training medical professionals in prostate cancer control,” she said.
Dr Kaseba said despite the shortage of staff, Zambia was blessed with a lot of health professionals such as doctors, nurses and paramedics who were dedicated and willing to take up the challenge of combating cancers and other diseases.
Southern Province has three cancer screening centres at Monze Mission Hospital, Livingstone General Hospital and Mosi-oa-tunya Clinic.
Since cervical cancer clinics were opened at Livingstone General Hospital and Mosi-oa-tunya Clinic in the tourist capital recently, 844 individuals have been screened out of which eight per cent of them have been treated.
Speaking at the same Keep Livingstone Clean and Healthy campaign launch, Dr Kasonde said a healthy nation was a wealthy national.
Dr Kasonde said his ministry would ensure a malaria-free Livingstone so that visitors enjoyed their stay in the city.
“People are demanding for a higher status of Livingstone General Hospital by making it a central hospital and we will respond to that,” he said.
Dr Katema praised Dr Kaseba for promoting good health among women across the country.
“Wherever Dr Kaseba goes in various parts of the country, the demand for good heath goes up and we wish to commend her for promoting good health,” he said.
Mr Munkombwe said Livingstone had changed for better following the massive infrastructure developments which were being rolled out in the city by the Patriotic Front (PF) Government.
He said even political detractors were admiring the various projects being implemented in the tourist capital.
A Livingstone resident Angela Mwanza thanked the Government and other partners for the cervical cancer prevention programme in Zambia.
Ms Mwanza, who has already undergone cancer screening at Livingstone General Hospital, said she was happy that she had protected herself from cancer.
She asked Dr Kaseba to consider extending cancer screening centres to remotest parts of the country through mobile outreach and setting up new centres.
“If a mother is unwell, the whole society suffers. As women, let us also encourage men to go for male circumcision for us to have a healthy nation.
So if you thought good health is expensive, try ignorance. Let us beat this ignorance by going out into the community and sensitise our women,” she said.
Livingstone residents and others in surrounding places should, therefore, take advantage of this great opportunity to go for free health check-ups to enable them know their status as prevention is better than cure.
All residents should also join hands in promoting cleanliness in their homes and work premises to promote a clean and healthy environment ahead of the UNWTO General Assembly.