Lusaka — The United States Government has responded to a request by the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) for support to fight the recent cholera outbreaks in Lusaka and Luapula provinces. Immediate U.S. assistance includes life-saving support through interventions such as chlorine drops to sanitize more than 120 million liters of water, making it safe to drink.
Multiple U.S. Government agencies are working together to provide technical and financial assistance. “The United States Government is providing a wide range of assistance to the Government of Zambia through USAID/Zambia and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” said USAID Zambia Health Office Director Melanie Luick-Martins. “This includes geographic information system (GIS) hot-spot mapping of cholera cases and contaminated water locations, chlorine kits, transportation support, and technical assistance to improve public health surveillance.”
Six U.S. CDC experts in cholera control have recently arrived in Zambia to work with the Ministry of Health and Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) on cholera prevention and control activities. The experts – who include epidemiologists – are providing lab support to analyze clinical samples and conduct environmental testing of water sources.
“To fight this epidemic, everyone needs to drink and use safe water by boiling or chlorinating water before use, washing hands often with soap and water, and quickly seeking medical care if you have any symptoms,” notes U.S. CDC Zambia Associate Director for Health Information and Epidemiology Dr. Margaret Riggs.
U.S. CDC experts are assessing clinical management at cholera treatment centers, and conducting surveys to identify risk factors. The U.S. Government provided test kits to check for bacteria in water and food, and information materials such as brochures and posters to reinforce messages about the need to observe good hygiene as a preventative measure.
The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation has also committed $3 million to partner with the Ministry of Local Government to establish a solid-waste management utility to improve solid-waste collection and disposal in the city of Lusaka. Working with the Ministry of Health, the international donor community, and local partners, the U.S. Government is helping to educate the public to reduce the number of new cholera cases and spread of the disease.