The Zambian government has committed itself to ending cholera by the year 2025 through the validation of the national multi-sectoral cholera elimination plan for the period 2019 to 2025. Four cabinet ministers signed a pledge of commitment to end cholera in the country at the closing ceremony of a workshop which was organized by the Ministry of Health to finalise and validate the cholera elimination plan. The multi-sectoral cholera elimination plan will be used to mobilise resources and guide the strategies and activities to be implemented in the country in order to eliminate cholera.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya said that the elimination plan would target the cholera hotspots in the country. He said that although the global target to eliminate cholera was 2030, Zambia was set to eliminate cholera 5 years earlier, in 2025. To this effect, four cabinet ministers signed a commitment to end cholera in Zambia. The minister of health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, minister in the office of the vice president, Sylvia Chalikosa, minister of local government, Vincent Mwale and minister of water development, sanitation and environmental protection, Dennis Wanchinga signed on behalf of their ministries. The commitment to end cholera by these ministries represents government’s focus on leading a multi-sectoral approach to the fight against the disease.
The cholera elimination agenda has received support from Cooperating Partners who have also pledged to support the implementation of the elimination plan. Speaking at the same occasion, the WHO Representative, Dr. Nathan Bakyaita said the global roadmap to end cholera was targeted at reducing cholera related deaths by 90% by the year 2030. He appreciated the government’s commitment to the fight against cholera, which he said was demonstrated through a concerted multi-sectoral response which halted the 2017-2018 cholera outbreak. He said that the UN family had worked closely with other stakeholders in the development of the cholera elimination plan and reaffirmed the commitment to continue supporting interventions aimed at combating cholera.
Speaking at the same event, technical officer from the global taskforce on cholera control, Dr. Lorenzo Pezzoli said that ending cholera was an important achievement in its own right, because it was a critical step towards achieving the SDGs. He said that cholera killed an estimated 95 000 people and 2 million cases globally. He was pleased with Zambia’s ambitious multi-sectoral approach to end cholera. He said that the WHO-led Global Task Force on Cholera Control’s Global Roadmap to end cholera by 2030 operationalises the new global strategy for cholera control at the country level and provides a concrete path toward a world in which cholera would no longer be a public health threat.
Fighting cholera in Zambia will involve the need to upgrade slums and peri urban areas, improving access to appropriate health care, early case management, access to adequate safe water and sanitation, health literacy and improved hygiene behaviours by engaging communities through social mobilisation and risk communication. Other key actions are; Use of Oral Cholera Vaccines in all the identified cholera hotspots, establishing strong systems for surveillance, epidemic preparedness and response and strong laboratory capacity.