THE Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has recorded a warn-and-caution statement from former Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Administration Ms. Akakulubelwa Mulalelo.
In confirming the development to Mwebantu, ACC public relations manager Timothy Moono said the Commission has been conducting investigations into alleged irregularities in the awarding of a tender to Honeybee Pharmaceuticals by the Ministry of Health.
“I wish to inform you that the investigations are progressing well and have reached an advanced stage. In this regard, the Commission summoned former Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Administration Ms. Akakulubelwa Mulalelo to appear for questioning today. The Commission has recorded a Warn and Caution Statement from Ms. Mulalelo, and the Commission will in due course transmit the case file to the National Prosecutions Authority for further action.” he said.
He further added that a joint team comprising officers from the Anti-Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission and the Auditor-General’s Office has been constituted to look into the matter involving the accumulation of K2.4 billion debt by the Ministry of Health for Covid-19 supplies. This follows allegations of price inflations and mismanagement of the procurement process in acquiring the Covid-19 supplies.
“The Commission wishes to assure the nation that it will pursue these and other cases of corruption diligently and to their logical conclusion. The Commission recognizes the responsibility placed on it by the people of Zambia, and it shall at all times endeavour to serve the best interests of the Zambian people. “ he said.
Omicron: Zambia reports first three cases of new Covid variant.
THE MINISTRY of Health says the country yesterday through the genomic sequencing laboratory at the University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Veterinary
Medicine detected three SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant isolates among samples from individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last one week.
Omicron is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 that the World Health Organisation (WHO) designated as a ‘variant of concern’ on 26 November 2021.
This means it has potential for increase in transmissibility, more severe disease such as increased hospitalizations or deaths, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failure.
Health Minister Sylvia Masebo said in a statement, that the three cases of the Omicron variants in Zambia were detected from the people one being in a man living in Lusaka District with a history of recent international travel.
Ms Masebo said the fully vaccinated individual is in stable condition displaying mild ‘flu like’ symptoms and remains in isolation.
She added that another man who lives in Chibombo District, with a history of recent international travel, is currently asymptomatic and is self-isolating, the individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
She said another victim is a woman in Lusaka District who initially presented as an out-patient at one of the hospitals in Lusaka with mild ‘flu like’ symptoms and was treated for COVID-19. She has no history of international travel and is unvaccinated for COVID-19.
“Lets support all our dear ones who are suffering from this terrible infection and avoid discriminating against them even as we continue to focus on heightened surveillance, contact tracing and genomic sequencing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Masebo said.
She noted that it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more easily spread from person to person compared to other variants.
“The severity of disease following infection with the Omicron variant is yet to be understood. There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those associated with other variants,”.
Ms Masebo however said preliminary evidence suggests that they may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited.
“On a positive note, the current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death. While further studies are underway to understand the potential impact of this variant on existing counter measures, it is clear that vaccines continue to play a critical role in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, She noted.
“The Omicron has been reported in many countries especially with the Southern Africa region leading to restriction and travel bans to many countries in Europe and the Americas,” she said.
She further announced that the National Heart Hospital will be the main COVID-19 Isolation Center, while other designated facilities will continue to manage patients in their jurisdiction.
“While our frontline personnel work hard to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic it remains key and critical that everyone continued to adhere to the Public Health and Social Measures as well as get vaccinated,” he said.
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Mr Hakainde Hichilema remains concerned over the well-being of everyone in the country and sends a personal request to all Zambians to take personal responsibility to protect themselves from COVID-19,” she said.
Ms Masebo said the president further urges all eligible persons to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The responsibility to contain the COVID-19 and prevent further transmission and related disease starts with the individual and requires concerted efforts by communities and institutions. If everyone of us strictly adheres to the public health social measures coined in the five golden rules and all those pre qualifies to take the COVID-19 vaccine, that is all who are 18 years and above in our country, we would timely contain outbreak and possibly prevent a severe 4th wave,” she said.
She has since emphasised the need to adhere to the ‘5’ golden rules.
Ms Masebo has also acknowledge the efforts of local scientists including the Zambia genomic sequencing consortium (Zambia National Public Health National Reference laboratory; UNZA-Vet; UTH Virology laboratory; TDRC; CHAZ; Macha Research Trust; PATH; US-CDC; JICA; Hokkaido University; UK-Health Security Agency, the Africa CDC, WHO and other partners for the support to the genomic sequencing.
“I also applaud the Zambia National Public Health Institute and the larger Ministry of Health, which continues to hold the response responsibly supported by our all-weather partners and multisector stakeholders who remain committed to ensuring we prevent and control the COVID-19 and indeed other diseases that threaten our well-being,” she said.
“I sincerely pay special gratitude to the general public for the positive response we have seen in the past few days/weeks to the vaccination campaign and to the public health measures. These interventions are crucial especially as we enter the festive season,”
U.S. Embassy Announces Arrival of Additional COVID Vaccines
THE United States Embassy in Lusaka has announced the arrival of an additional 151,200 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine donated by the United States Government as part of its global efforts to fight the coronavirus.
The United States has now donated over 300,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson to Zambia over the last week as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to share the U.S. vaccine supply with the world.
The vaccines were made available through the African Union COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility and are part of the U.S. pledge to provide at least 25 million of 80 million doses globally with Africa.
The U.S. government coordinated closely with the African Union and Africa Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on the country allocations.
And speaking about the impact of this donation, USAID Mission Director Sheryl Stumbras encouraged all Zambians to get vaccinated, focusing on the rigorous testing the vaccine underwent and its strong safety record “Getting vaccinated saves lives.
“That is why the United States has pledged $4 billion to COVAX to accelerate equitable global access to vaccines. The United States is working to ensure countries are prepared to safely and effectively distribute these vaccines,”Stumbras said
Stumbras said vaccines are an essential tool in reducing the impact of COVID-19.
“The Government of the Republic of Zambia has released new guidelines this month that recommend vaccination for expectant and breastfeeding mothers, and the elderly.
These are the same recommendations we give in the United States. Globally, pregnant women are more likely to get severely ill if they get COVID-19,,” Stumbras said
Stumbras further said the United States remains committed to supporting the Ministry of Health in sharing essential information on COVID-19 prevention and vaccine eligibility.
I.K Charitable Trust donates 2000 oxygen cylinders to Ministry of Health
I.K Charitable Trust has donated 2,000 oxygen cylinders as part of the emergency relief aid towards the COVID19 response.
And government says the donation of 2000 oxygen cylinders from I.K Charitable Trust
will help in improving the availability of oxgygen in hospitals.
Speaking when he recieved the donation, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Kennedy Malama said government has continued ramping up procurement of oxygen cylinders, concentrators and oxygen delivery devices.
He called on various partners and stakeholders to support the response to prioritise oxgygen delivery devices.
“With a high number of Patients requiring high flow Oxgygen countrywide standing at over 700 (70% of those admitted) we urge various partners and stakeholders as they come to support the response to prioritize Oxgygen delivery devices and the schedule is available at the Ministry of Health for those who may need it as they plan donations.
The receipt of the donation Of 2000 Oxygen cylinders from I.K Charitable today is a high impact one and Government is grateful for this generous gesture. This donation will enable us assure our patients of improved availability of Oxgygen,” Dr Malama said
Last week, IK Charitable Trust also donated assorted medical supplies to the Ministry of Health.
The medical supplies valued at K2,345,880 include three ventilators to be used to pump air into the lungs of patients with severe respiratory failure, onr blood gas machine to analyse blood oxygen in patients among others and 96,000 COVID-19 swabs.