Green Party President Peter Sinkamba is saddened by the reported death of 41 people in Lusaka due to cholera. He also regrets that others have been devastated by the disease in the last three months.
He said there is no justification for a life to be lost in Zambia from cholera and any other sanitation-related disease after 53 years of independence, and that doing so is sheer disgrace.
He has attributed the continued recurrence of cholera in Lusaka and elsewhere in the country to poor implementation of sanitation policies, especially the National Solid Waste Management Strategy of 2004.
“It is extremely saddening that 41 lives have been lost so far since October. It is also regrettable that over 1,500 people have contracted the disease during this period.
“You know, cholera is spread mostly by poor sanitary conditions such as unsafe water and unsafe food that has been contaminated with human feces containing the bacteria. Undercooked food is another common source.
“Put simply, what I am saying here is that there is no justification whatsoever to lose a single life in Zambia due to poor sanitary conditions. Not after 53 years of independence. That is sheer disgrace!
“Cholera is like polio. You can eliminate it if there is political-will. For example, there haven’t been any cases of cholera originating in England and Wales for over 100 years. This record has been made possible due to political-will.
“You see, I was one of the architects of the National Solid Waste Management Strategy which we developed from 2001 to 2004 under the auspices of the Environmental Council of Zambia, now called Zambia Environmental Management Agency.
“We developed the strategy to ensure that Zambia establishes a coordinated approach to sound solid waste management in the whole country and thereby lead to improvements in the management of waste encompassing all waste streams.
“The main objective of the strategy was to eliminate perennial outbreak of diseases such as cholera, dysentery as well as to control pollution of water resources, air, soil or land contamination, including the proliferation of pests and vermin.
“However, 14 years after the strategy was developed, it is disgraceful that there is still so much domestic and industrial waste which lies uncollected especially in the major urban and peri-urban areas.
“It is shameful that is still limited financial capacity and lack of trained manpower, which in turn makes it almost impossible for the local authorities to fulfill their obligations concerning solid waste management.
“Worse still, 14 years after the strategy was developed, there is no implementation plan for the strategy has been put in place.
“This is extremely disgusting. It is like all efforts and resources marshaled to develop the strategy have been poured down the waste-water drain.
“And the consequence is loss of waste of 41 lives and devastation of thousands more by cholera. If this is not disgusting and shameful, then what is it!” he exclaimed.
He said lack of political-will to finance environmental programmes is a serious cancer which will continue wasting and devastating lives provided voters fail to take environmental issues seriously during elections.
“Unfortunately, this cancer will continue wasting and devastating lives unnecessarily provided the voters remain indifferent to the green agenda,” he said.
And Sinkamba has commended President Edgar Lungu for deploying defence services and the Police to compliments efforts of the Ministries of Health and Local Government. However, he has blamed President Lungu for moving in too late.
“Ideally, the army and police should be part and parcel of the cholera preparedness committees we set up in the 1990s.
“Immediately a case of cholera or dysentery is reported in a particular locality, naturally, the army and police must immediately be deployed to compliment efforts of other government agencies.
“Now, in this instance, the reaction time has been slow. The Commander-in-Chief did not need wait for 41 people to die and devastation of thousands others to deploy the defence and police personnel. That is bad commandership,” he said.