THE Zambian government says travelers coming into Zambia through its Chirundu boarder post will no longer be subjected to inhuman treatment following public outcry after indications that immigration stuff at the boarder were forcing travelers to relief themselves for medical tests purposes.
The developments come hot on the heels of a cholera epidemic which claimed not less than 30 lives and infected close to 8000 others in Zimbabwe and fears of the disease spreading beyond the borders were high considering the high human traffic between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
In a statement, Zambia’s ministry of health Head Media relations, Stanslous Ngosa said the situation at the border had normalised and travellers were welcome into the country.
“The Ministry of Health would like to assure travelers entering Zambia that the ports of entry are operating normally contrary to reports that people are being screened and forced to take drugs to prevent cholera.
“Only a specific group of Zambian travelers that were coming from a cholera epi-centre in Harare, Zimbabwe was screened at Chirundu Border, and administered with prophylaxis as a precautionary measure considering that the group had spent more than one week at a gathering in the epi centre,” said Ngosa.
He added that operation was a once off one and only targeted at that particular high risk group. The action was not in anyway intended to inconvenience or dehumanize anyone.
“Travelers are assured that they would not be unnecessarily subjected to taking any drugs or vaccines; neither would they be required to submit stool at the border entry point.
“The public and indeed travelers to Zambia are reassured that as a nation, we are party to the International Health Regulations and other World Health Organization protocols relating to health security and cross-border disease outbreak management. We remain alert and have heightened our preparedness for management of cholera and other disease outbreak threats.”
Meanwhile, Mashonaland West provincial medical director Dr Wenceslaus Nyamayaro confirmed receiving similar reports from officials at Chirundu Border Post.
“We have received the reports of travellers being screened at the border post and we have engaged our permanent secretary (Dr Gerald Gwinji) on the matter,” Dr Nyamayaro said.
“The issue of people being given tablets to trigger bowel movement is a bit disturbing because we know that we cannot control cholera by shutting down the border, but to encourage hygiene among our people.”
According to sources at Chirundu, the screening involved people being asked to take the laxative, a doxycycline preventive tablet while being asked to wash their hands.