Zambia cholera: President Hakainde Hichilema urges people to move to villages

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Cholera patients at Heroes Stadium Cholera Treatment Centre in LusakaImage source, Zambia presidecy/Facebook

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has urged people to relocate from towns to villages following the deaths of about 300 people in a cholera outbreak.

Poor sanitation in some densely populated urban areas was a good breeding ground for cholera, he said.

To decongest major towns, residents should relocate to rural areas where there was enough space and “perfect sanitation”, Mr Hichilema added.

More than 7,500 cholera cases have been reported nationwide since last October.

In the last 24 hours, there were more than 500 new cases and 17 deaths, the health ministry said.

The reopening of schools has been delayed as part of a series of preventative measures.

The disease has so far spread to eight of Zambia’s 10 provinces.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is to send about one million cholera vaccine doses in the coming days in a bid to contain the outbreak.

On Wednesday, Mr Hichilema visited the Heroes Stadium Cholera Treatment Centre, where there are more than 1,000 patients, in the capital, Lusaka.

Hakainde Hichilema at Lusaka treatment centre

Image source, @HHichilema

He said the government would take some “hard to swallow” measures in an effort to eradicate the waterborne disease.

He appeared to blame some Zambians who moved to towns “without a clear objective” for the mushrooming of poorly planned informal settlements.

Some young people were “hanging around and doing nothing” in towns instead of moving to rural areas to farm, the president said.

“There is so much land in the villages, there is clean water. We can build nice homes in the villages, which are not polluted,” Mr Hichilema said.

The authorities would upgrade existing slums in towns, and .prevent the emergence of new ones, he added.

Neighbouring Mozambique and Zimbabwe have heightened surveillance to prevent cross-border transmission.

For months now, Zimbabwe has also been battling to stem the spread of cholera because the country lacks clean water.

The bacterial disease is spread by contaminated water or food, and causes severe dehydration from vomiting and diarrhoea. It can kill within hours if left untreated.

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