LUSAKA, Apr. 29 - Government has attributed the difficulties experienced in curbing cholera outbreaks in Lusaka to lack of proper water facilities and an increase in the number of unplanned settlements.
Health Permanent Secretary, Simon Miti said this during a World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting on Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) for the Southern Africa Epidemiological Bloc in Lusaka yesterday.
The four-day meeting has drawn the interest of several countries from the Southern African region.
Dr Miti said the factor of unplanned settlements which were mainly in the jurisdiction of the Lusaka City Council, made it difficult to monitor and control the spread of the epidemic.
He said unplanned settlements which were highly populated like John Laing, Chibolya and Misisi, were seriously constrained with the lack of proper water networks contributing negatively to efforts to combat the water-borne disease.
He said the current cholera outbreak in Lusaka and 24 other districts had been controlled due to the high level of preparedness by health personnel throughout the country.
Dr Miti called on WHO to help the Government by increasing support towards the control of the disease which threatens many lives especially during the rainy season.
"I am aware that the WHO mission that came in the country to check on the situation in March this year appreciates the difficulties that we in the health sector haave in dealing with the cholera problem.
"My plea to WHO is to accelerate the arrival of this support so that we can get into the 2004/2005 cholera season more prepared," he said.
The permanent secretary said the IDSR programme had helped key players in the health sector to respond quickly and positively to preventive measures and preparedness in the event of any outbreaks.
He said the Government had tried to get the IDSR concept and strategy institutionalised at all levels of the health care delivery system but had not yet reached the rural districts.
IDRS has helped strengthen the health management information system's surveillance component, he said.
WHO representative Stella Anyangwe cited the outbreak of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in some parts of the world, where IDSR measures had been implored to help reduce its rapid spread.
Dr Anyangwe called on the Zambian experts to share their knowledge and experience on how they had utilised the IDSR programme to combat cholera to participating countries.