Tag: Covid 19

Merry Christmas and happy 2022

Merry Christmas and happy 2022

It’s hard to think of a Christmas season when all of us across Zambia have needed the break more acutely.

The truth is that 2021 has been a hard year for our country. This has been a difficult year for many of us. We didn’t succeed in delivering the real change, revolutionary change that so many people so desperately need. But Christmas is a chance to listen, reflect and remember all the things that bind us together: our compassion, our determination to tackle injustice, inequality, lack of honesty, humility and solidarity and our hope for a more just, fair and humane world.

Christmas is a time of year when the scale of injustice and inequality is in very plain sight.With our political system in gridlock, and public discourse too often descending into rancour and abuse, it’s felt like we’ve been living permanently under a dark cloud.All of us across Zambia have too often focused on the differences between us, rather than on what ties us together.

So I hope the magic of Christmas casts its spell for people this year, helping families and friends remember what it is that unites them, not divides them. I hope it reminds us that, despite the sound and fury of our national debate, the bonds of family, community and country are still deep and lasting.

Yes, it’s a cliché that Christmas is the season of goodwill. But its important for all of us that we demonstrate that goodwill to each other this year and that, for a week or so, hopefully the shouting match of social media can fall silent. It’s also a time to thank health workers who will be keeping going over the Christmas holiday should we need them, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic that has been raking havoc. I hope they get a break with their families in due course.

It’s also right to mention those people who will this year be supporting the destitute, those living on the streets, the homeless during the Christmas season, our religious leaders for whom this is such a busy time, and all those who are looking out for a neighbour or a friend who needs support at this time of year.

And I also want to ask people to think about their neighbours. While we celebrate being together, we are reminded of the many who will be alone and sadly lonely at Christmas. But our communities are built on generosity and the solidarity that comes from that. So we do not walk by on the other side. Loneliness can be a terrible thing at Christmas. So we should look out for each other. And let’s make sure we have peace in our country and on our entire planet.May I wish all of you a merry Christmas and happy 2022.

Fred M’membe

Condolences on the death of Sr Dr Charity Chishimba

Condolences on the death of Sr Dr Charity Chishimba Featured

It’s not easy writing a message of condolences when your heart is heavy. This morning I woke to find out that Sr Dr Charity Chishimba has died from COVID-19. She died trying to save the lives of her COVID-19 patients.

There’s no greater love for others than sacrificing your own life to save theirs. Sr Dr Chishimba has died the way she lived. She dedicated her whole life to the service of others, her Church and her Creator. May her soul rest in eternal peace!

COVID-19 has been associated with an increased mortality in doctors and health care workers. Until an effective cure is developed, risk assessments at work, mitigating confounding factors, adequate supply of personal protective equipment and enhanced protection against infection are necessary to protect health care professionals on the coronavirus front line. Otherwise this occupational risk can lead to further untimely mortality and become another unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sr Dr Chishimba’s death from COVID-19 has robbed our people not only of a leader in the response, but also of someone with an unparalleled epidemiological understanding of the area. From the first day she qualified as a medical doctor until the last day she died, she dedicated her life to the health of her people, especially in Chilubula.

The cruelty of this pandemic seems limitless. So many broken promises, broken connections, broken hearts. It is a loss layered upon the greatest loss, under the shadow of the virus.

Today, the inner circle of bereaved — children, parents, spouses, siblings — are very much alone in the aftermath of a death. They mourn without the friends, co-workers, and cousins who would have come to lighten the burden of grief — which is a real thing: the weight on the chest, the difficulty of moving. Funerals, wakes, visiting hours and shivas take place in empty rooms.

In the good old days, which is now defined as any time before March 2020, the most important thing you could do after a death was show up. You hugged and maybe held on for a few extra moments that spoke volumes of care. (Remember long hugs?) Sometimes, when there was a big crowd and you didn’t get a chance to hug or speak, eye contact alone made the commitment tangible, words were unnecessary. All that is no more.

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

Let’s learn to do things the right way

Let’s learn to do things the right way Featured

We need to quickly learn how to do things the right way even if it calls for our greatest efforts.
As a nation, we have been battling with COVID-19 since March last year but up to now we are behaving as if the pandemic is new – something that has just sprung up.
With the experience that we now have and the world has, we should be in a position to come up with concrete measures and contain the spread of this deadly virus and there save lives. However, everything has been politicized and ‘corruptised’. Just after the first wave had been contained, our technocrats met with the donor community in October to discuss preparations for the second wave. All their recommendations were discarded for political expediency.
Instead of getting donor support in terms of receiving enough testing kits, personal protective equipment, oxygen, ventilators and PCR testing machines, the Ministry of Health opted to get financing from the treasury which is broke so that it could do its own procurement. As if that was not enough, the old Levy Hospital in Lusaka was closed and put under renovation amidst a pandemic just to give a construction contract to someone. Consequently, today, there isn’t enough bed space, hence some wards at UTH have been turned into isolation centres.
A couple of days ago, the New Maina Soko Hospital was hurriedly opened  to meet demand without putting everything required in place, hence the increase in numbers of deaths.
Despite being aware that 80 per cent of the COVID-19 patients have to rely on oxygen, our oxygen purity fall below the required standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO) of minimum 80 per cent. Strange enough, our oxygen purity is between 45 per cent and 50 per cent which is 30 per cent to 35 per cent below WHO recommendations. As if that is not enough, sometimes there is no oxygen at COVID-19 centres leading to loss of lives. Last week, eight people died when there was power failure at Maina Soko Hospital and the oxygen machines went into self protective mode.
And when it comes to adherence to COVID-19 rules, politicians in the ruling party have not set the right example to our people as they do not practice social distancing, sanitize or wash their hands and avoid large clouds. Today, the President himself has gone into a full campaign swing and thereby becoming a possible mass spreader of COVID-19. I am not a scientist but I suspect this is what has increased the COVID-19 cases in rural areas.
Worse still, our front line workers have not been incentivized in terms of risk allowances for putting their lives at risk. Besides, personal protective equipments are not well stocked. At one point last year medical staff were given two surgical masks per week. The situation has not yet improved. Where has the K600 million given to the Disaster Management Unit to curb COVID-19 gone? In a nut shell, the government has shown lack of capacity to deal with this crisis. Our health system has collapsed!

Fred M’membe

We have entered a second wave of coronavirus infections

We have entered a second wave of coronavirus infections Featured

It seems we have entered a second wave of coronavirus infections.
The number of COVID-19 cases detected in the country in the past two weeks seems indicate that a second wave of the outbreak has begun.
The country is at risk of losing many lives.
We are in a potentially difficult phase of the COVID-19 resurgence.
And accessing the hope offered by the arrival of the vaccine is still some time ahead.
Our health system is certainly not coping.
As the pandemic continues to evolve across the country, there is a need for the government to re-evaluate, re-strategise, and re-invigorate its COVID-19 response activities to ensure its prepared to handle this second, and potentially third wave of cases.
In an effort to limit transmission and achieve pandemic control, we need to remain vigilant.
We should adapt or adopt best practices, strategies, guidelines and recommendations proposed by the World Health Organization, aimed at limiting transmission. But whatever measures the government takes should strike a balance between saving lives and minimising the impact of the pandemic on the economy and social wellbeing of citizens.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party

Statement of the Socialist Party on a National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Statement of the Socialist Party on a National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic Featured

Humanity has been subjected to the COVID-19 for more than a year now. Soon, more than a 100 million people would have been infected and 2 million of those infected would have died! Yet the end of the pandemic is not near. The global frenzy with inoculations may help to bring down the infection rates – and may be even make our world safe from COVID-19.
However we should brace ourselves for a long haul – more especially in the periphery capitalist countries such as Zambia.
The demand side of the pandemic is complex enough.  High poverty levels, an extremely high burden of existing communicable and non-communicable diseases, low levels of hygiene, poor access to clean water and sanitation, crowded and poor housing conditions, illiteracy and poor health seeking behaviour are all factors that severely compromise health outcomes.
Similarly, the supply side is pathetic. We observe the presence of a weak and poorly resourced health system, rampant corruption at all levels of governance, the sheer absence of a science-led approach, heavy dependence on external partners that are themselves struggling to meet the health needs of their citizens, frightening incompetence in managing the COVID-19 pandemic as well as sluggish GDP growth.
The class character and implications of the pandemic are also apparent. Those able to travel abroad – the well off, initially introduced the COVID-19 pandemic into Zambia! Further, the high-income bracket of society often frequents the upmarket places such as shopping malls, restaurants and nightclubs that continue to fuel the epidemic. The youthful Zambian elite is notoriously uncompromising when it comes to consummating “leisure” even if this entails driving the entire country into a death trap. Yet the biggest losers of the pandemic will be the poor people without jobs and without proper access to health care. They will perish in great numbers!
The Socialist Party is drawing insights from the failure of the globalised capitalist system in managing the pandemic. It is also keenly following the success as well as the underling principles embedded in the national responses of the socialist countries. In coming up with our national response for Zambia, we are cognizant of the fact that there is no single solution that responds to the needs of all countries. The Socialist Party leadership is innovative, flexible and thinking outside the box:
1.     A total mobilisation of the masses of our people and all their national institutions will be the centrepiece of the response. We find ourselves at war with an invisible enemy. Any day lost to procrastination entails 100s of lives lost. We will immediately declare a month-long State of Emergency upon getting into power! This will enable us to effectively mobilise each adult Zambian and help put COVID- 19 on top of the political, social-cultural and economic agenda. The State of Emergency would greatly help the health system to catch up with contact tracing and slow down community level transmission.
2.     A war situation calls for exceptional decisions. We estimate to divert 10% of our entire GDP in order to provide effective health communication, institute mass testing, provide adequate medical supplies, medicines, PPEs, bed space, requisite equipment and an expanded workforce that will enable us halt transmission, provide quality care (including long term post-infection care and support) and therefore preserve thousands of Zambian lives.
3.     COVID-19 will not be the last global pandemic. We have to be prepared for more vicious pandemics in the years to come. Our routine surveillance system needs strengthening. Our response time and quality have to be exceptional. We need a highly health literate population. Pandemic management and the standard treatment guidelines need an interface and our poor capacities for multi-sectoral coordination should be a thing of the past.
4.     COVID-19 is a disaster for humanity, but it also exposes the pre-existing social and economic malaise in society: Job insecurity, vulnerabilities of small scale businesses, the negative consequences for frontline heath workers – who are poorly equipped, protected and remunerated, the increase in patriarchal violence (gender based violence) during the quarantine periods, and political discrimination of opposition political parties under the pretext of pandemic control measures. As a socialist party, our mandate is to these vulnerable groups in society. We have begun a process of consultation that will inform concrete policy and action and help the masses of our people to emancipate themselves from these forms of injustice and inequity as we face this global pandemic.
The Zambian people can and MUST rise up to the challenge posed by COVID-19. The neoliberal capitalist approaches in managing society and heath are a death sentence for the masses of our people. The immediate task of our masses is to vote out neoliberal capitalism from our homeland. The lumpen and petty bourgeois leadership has caused enough harm and is directly responsible for the senseless deaths through the pandemic. Voting them out of power has become synonymous to voting out COVID-19 from our lives.
Statement issued by
Dr. Cosmas Musheke Musumali
Socialist Party
General Secretary/First Vice President
Lusaka Industrial Area Office