Following the deaths of about 300 people in a cholera outbreak, Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema has urged people to relocate from towns to villages.
He said poor sanitation in some densely populated urban areas was a good breeding ground for cholera, adding that “to decongest major towns, residents should relocate to rural areas where there was enough space and perfect sanitation, Mr Hichilema said.
Report has it that more than 7,500 cholera cases have been reported nationwide since last October.
According to the health ministry, in the last 24 hours, there were more than 500 new cases and 17 deaths and this development had made the reopening of schools 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) said it would 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.
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.