Photo Credit: Lorenzo Pezzoli / WHO
Church leaders in Zambia have announced that services in parts of the capital should be cancelled to help halt the spread of cholera. The “epicentres cannot be allowed to hold church programs on Sunday and any other day until further notice,” the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), which includes the Zambian dioceses of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, said. “Church Services can be held in other areas outside these worst hit areas on Sunday as long the highest levels of hygiene are maintained. Every Church must have adequate and very clean toilets as well as enough clean water. Strictly urge all members to avoid handshakes, hugs, and communal foods.”
The instruction was given in a memo sent to churches by the Revd Canon Emmanuel Chikoya, the general secretary of the CCZ. “We encourage those in less affected areas to conduct very short worship services than the usual after which people are to be encouraged to go to their respective homes without idling and mingling around,” he said.
He asked clergy and lay preachers to conduct contextual bible studies and sermons to help change attitudes and mindsets on personal hygiene.
“We call on the CCZ fraternity to proactively and corporately participate in the general and personal cleanup program currently underway,” he said. “It must be well noted that faith without works is dead. We must stand together with government, all political stakeholders to effectively contribute towards eliminating the cholera challenge and prevent it from becoming a national catastrophe.
“We have a challenge to not only clean the city but the whole country at large. This prompts us to call on the entire CCZ fraternity to commit to participating in the immediate task of containing the cholera outbreak through personal corporate participation in the ongoing works.”
The government has begun a mass cholera vaccination programme and aim to deliver two million doses in Lusaka, with the support of the World Health Organisation. It has imposed curfews and called in the army to assist bring the outbreak to an end. So far, some 3,000 people have been infected and 67 people have died.
“Zambia is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks of cholera in years,” Dr Nathan Bakyaita, the WHO Representative to Zambia, said. “With this [vaccination] campaign, we can stop cholera in its tracks and prevent an even more devastating epidemic.”