Remarks by U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires David Young
Dissemination of the SARS-CoV-2 Prevalence Study Preliminary Results
Ministry of Health, Ndeke House, Lusaka, Zambia
September 8, 2020
(as prepared for delivery)
Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Technical Services, Dr. Kennedy
Professor Victor Mukonka, Director of the Zambia National Public Health
Professor Lloyd Mulenga, Zambia National Director for Infectious Diseases and
Program Director Zambia ECHO Project
Ladies and gentlemen
All other protocols observed.
On behalf of the U.S. government, I am delighted to join you in the dissemination of the SARS-CoV-2 Prevalence Study preliminary findings. I commend the Zambian government, through the Ministry of Health, for taking the lead to produce these findings.
COVID-19 has changed how we conduct our daily lives and, in some cases, generated fear and uncertainties in our communities. A pandemic of this magnitude requires concerted and concentrated efforts from local and international communities to suppress transmission, save lives, and minimize the socioeconomic impact of the virus.
My government recognizes the efforts of all to provide high-quality, affordable care to the citizens of Zambia. Specifically, we commend the leadership and coordination that have produced measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the outbreak in Zambia, the U.S. government, through its agencies, has expanded support to the Zambian government to provide critical health supplies for healthcare facilities nationwide. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have provided technical assistance for national planning efforts in response to the pandemic in Zambia.
Today, the U.S. government proudly supports the Ministry of Health’s announcement of its COVID-19 research findings. It is remarkably the first such study of its kind in Africa. The findings highlight the critical need for community-wide engagement and participation in preventive measures that can stop the spread of COVID-19. We have learned plenty in the past months about this menace. Wearing masks, washing your hands, maintaining distance, and staying home as much as possible will stop the spread of COVID-19.
Understanding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is critical to the response. Surveillance systems inform these understandings on a daily basis, but scientific studies enrich our knowledge and situational awareness of the virus, which improves the response and saves lives.
This study also demonstrates the Zambian government’s commitment to advancing science and contributing knowledge about this novel disease. The Ministry of Health conceived, planned, implemented, and analyzed the data being shared today to improve the country’s response and accurately inform the public. The U.S. government, notably the CDC, remains a proud partner to Zambia as it seeks to defeat this virus.
My government contributed K9 million for implementation of this survey and continues to provide technical assistance for national planning and response efforts. Together with our partners, the U.S. government is committed to support Zambia slow and stop the spread of the virus. The release of these findings is a further demonstration of the U.S. government’s dedication to bolster the national response to COVID-19 in Zambia.
Now, I would like to take this opportunity to remind us all to reflect on the progress we have made and the lessons we have learned, and to recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to save lives. Let us remember the “five golden rules”:
- Mask up (wear masks consistently and correctly);
- Maintain physical distancing;
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer;
- Avoid crowded places and stay at home if you don’t have to go out; and
- If you develop any symptoms, seek medical attention immediately
Most importantly, please seek medical care in time before it is too late. We must be our brother’s and sister’s keepers in our communities by advising our loved ones showing symptoms to seek immediate attention. These findings make it even clearer that a comprehensive approach at an individual level is cardinal in the fight against COVID-19.
The U.S. government appreciates the long-standing relationship with the Government of the Republic of Zambia. We reiterate our commitment to supporting the public health system and a healthy population. Stay safe.