IT is shocking to hear that old superstitions around witchcraft has resulted in the suspension of essential coronavirus surveillance in North Western province.
Chavuma District has recorded several Covid-19 cases and is in an area that has various economic activities happening and so has potential for the virus spread.
Reports from ZANIS are that some residents in Chavuma district in North-western province have chased away health personnel assigned to conduct covid-19 tests.
The situation is more serious in the rural part of the district where people were chasing away health officers, fearing that if one tests positive, witches will take advantage and bewitch them, attributing deaths to coronavirus.
Acting Chavuma District Health Director, Dingani Daka, disclosed this during a stakeholders’ meeting that included traditional leaders.
Dr Daka said health officers in the district were facing challenges to make some follow ups on people with Covid-19 and contacts because villagers were not cooperating with them.
“Our core business is to discuss ways and means of fighting Covid-19 in Chavuma because the pandemic has not spared us. Recently, we lost one of our fathers due to this pandemic. This shows the gravity of the pandemic that even in Chavuma we are not spared,” Dr. Daka said.
He said in an effort to effectively fight the pandemic, health personnel decided to involve traditional leaders because they commanded a lot of respect from people in the communities.
“As the district health office, we came up with this meeting and with advice from traditional leaders, some present here, that they wanted to spearhead the fight against Covid-19 at community level,” he said.
The tradiotional leadership and community leaders must do more to ensure that members of their community understand the need to desist from rumour mongering and spreading of false information.’
This is 2021, there is no place or time for ‘ubuloshi’.
It is encouraging to know that the Chavuma district health office has swabbed 2,636 people for Covid-19 as of February 17.
Out of the total 2,636 people that were swabbed, 217 tested positive.
The district recorded 180 recoveries, 37 active cases and one death from the time the health team started swabbing.
Meanwhile, Chavuma District Commissioner (DC), Fredrick Foloshi appealed to the village headmen to sensitise their subjects to wear face masks, wash their hands regularly with soap or sanitize all the time as well as observe hygiene in their homes and avoiding crowded places.
“I urge all of you who have gathered here to inform other headmen who have failed to attend this meeting, like those from Mbalango, Sakawawa, Kamisamba, to sensitize their people about this deadly pandemic of Covid-19,” Mr Foloshi said.
He said traditional leaders should lead by example in following all the guidelines aimed at curbing the further spread of the coronavirus.
“I would like you also to hold another meeting with all headmen from Chavuma West so that they are sensitized as well because I have not seen anyone from the west. Covid-19 is real, we have already lost our senior citizens here in Chavuma district and we have 37 active cases,” he said.
Senior headman, Swana Kaumba, who spoke on behalf of other headmen, assured Government that traditional leaders would sensitize their subjects.
“In fact, us as headmen, had a meeting on 29 January 2021 to look at the same killer disease of Covid-19 where we talked about our children who have just opened schools on 1 February, 2021,” he said.
Headman Kaumba has meanwhile appealed to teachers, parents, traders, marketers, and other stakeholders to adhere to health guidelines in order to protect reduce the chances of contracting and spreading the pandemic.
He has meanwhile urged all people in the district not to politicize Covid-19 but instead work together regardless of their political, church and any other affiliation to fight the pandemic in unity.
Indeed, participation of traditional leaders in the fight against Covid-19 can surely help the national fight against the scourge.