Covid-19 cases in Zambia reached more than 1,000 as of June 3, according to worldometers.info.
With a population of more than 17.35 million, the percentage of total cases is only 0.005%. In addition to this impressively low total case number, a total of 912 individuals have recovered, a 90% recovery rate. Here are three reasons for the high recovery and lack of cases in Zambia.
Testing, Testing, Testing!
On March 18, Zambia reported its first two cases of coronavirus in the nation’s capital, Lusaka. Two residents tested positive after traveling to France. Before those cases, Zambia’s government prepared by increasing testing and screening. A 14-day self-quarantine was put into place to make sure potential positive cases of COVID-19 in Zambia would not spread.
On March 25, Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu addressed the nation after 12 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Lungu made headway by addressing those citizens who hadn’t taken the virus seriously. “Let me say this; if your lifestyle has not changed in the past few weeks, then you are doing something wrong and endangering both yourself, your neighbor, and your loved ones,” Lungu said.
Also during the speech, Lungu made commitments to ensure funding from the public sector would go into testing. Lungu has called this his COVID-19 contingency plan, which is “including its budget and directed the ministry of finance to mobilize resources to enable lune ministries, private sector, and other key stakeholders to contain and combat the spread of the coronavirus disease.” Though, Lungu didn’t stop there. He halted non-essential travel and restricted dine-in service for restaurants. Bars, night clubs, cinemas, gyms, and casinos had to close immediately. Lungu described the coronavirus as a war against his people. His analogy created an extra layer of importance for following his guidelines for fighting COVID-19 in Zambia.
One group critical to the backbone of medical care and funding for the coronavirus pandemic has been the Zambian International Health Alliance (ZIHA). ZIHA has focused on funding HIV/AIDS treatment, medical personnel and research of new diseases that could affect the people of Zambia, like the coronavirus. This funding has allowed for an increase in testing.
Another key player in medical relief is the U.S., specifically the United States Agency for International Development. The Agency granted Zambia $6.77 billion, which has funded healthcare in Zambia. President Lungu made an announcement on April 1, saying that he’s “welcoming the government’s plans to recruit more health workers in the wake of COVID-19.” The Medical Association of Zambia agreed with Lungu’s statement. They think this will not only increase the number of medical professionals in Zambia but will also ease the pain of COVID-19 in terms of outreach.
Because of the efforts to battle COVID-19 in Zambia, the virus has a relatively small presence compared to the country’s total population. Recently, an excellen maize harvest helped quell food shortage worries. The extra grain will be used as an emergency food supply, protected by Zambia’s Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
COVID-19 has put economically impoverished communities at risk, but it has also helped reveal the willpower of the Zambian people and the power of a community coming together to fight a common enemy – hunger.
– Grant Ritchey