PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
POLITICISING COVID-19 FIGHT WILL BE DISASTROUS FOR ZAMBIA
Ndola, Zambia. Monday, 4th October 2021
Since the first Covid-19 cases were reported in Zambia in March 2020, the country has recorded 209,163 cases with 3,649 citizens dying from this deadly disease. These are not mere statistics but our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children.
Sadly only less than 3% of the eligible adult population is vaccinated against Covid-19 even when a “Fourth (4th) Wave” of the pandemic is imminent. The “4th Wave” may overwhelm or even collapse the country’s healthcare system with hospital admissions and deaths, anf may lead to deadly socioeconomic consequences.
Globally, 232,245,651 Covid-19 cases have been recorded with total number of deaths approaching 5 million. The most developed country in the world, the USA, is the world’s most affected country accounting for 15% of the world’s cases, and over 700,000 deaths. And despite the availability of Covid-19 vaccines there, 70 million Americans remain unvaccinated. We have also seen the devastating health and socioeconomic impact of Covid-19 in European countries, and in India, Brazil, and African countries.
Since 16th August 2021 when the last election results were announced, there has been huge lapse in adherence to Covid-19 public health prevention measures, and everything has been literally “OPEN” since then. Life immediately went back to normal as bars, restaurants, markets, churches, shops, public meetings, sports and social events all operated as before Covid-19. In addition, very few of our citizens are wearing face masks in public even today. So the recent pronouncements by government about “OPENING-UP” of these public places is self-contradictory because these public places have been “WIDE OPEN” since 16th August.
I appeal to politicians to stop politicking with Covid-19 and instead allow the technocrats at the Ministry of Health and Zambia National Public Health Institute to take the lead. Mixed messages from politicians have contributed to Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy by Zambians. One day politicians will call Covid-19 a “hoax”, and tell people not to get Covid-19 vaccination. The next day, they will turn around and say Covid-19 is “real” and ask people to get vaccinated. These contradictions lead to loss of trust by the people. And politicians claiming to be vaccinated must lead by example and do so in public, not in private as people will not believe them.
I urge government to refocus their energies on policy measures that will mitigate the deadly impact of the upcoming 4th Wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, including strict enforcement of and adherence to Covid-19 public health prevention measures such as wearing of face masks in public. They should also outline strategies they are putting in place to increase the number of vaccinated eligible adults from the current less than 3% to at least 70%, in order to achieve “herd immunity.” The only way out of the Covid-19 pandemic is strict adherence to the Covid-19 prevention measures and Covid-19 vaccination for the majority of our people.
I also appeal to our Traditional and Church leaders to take the lead in sensitizing people against Covid-19 and encouraging them to get Covid-19 vaccinations since they are more likely to be believed by the public compared to politicians.
Dr Jonas Chanda,
Former Minister of Health