Whenever there is an outbreak of a new infectious disease, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, we are quick to identify the animal or species that hosted the virus. However, we pay little attention to the role people who deal in illegal wildlife products play in causing the “species jump” and spreading Zoonotic diseases.
Poachers illegally hunt in national parks, game management areas and private game farms. As a result, they are always fearful of being spotted by someone or being caught by village scouts or wildlife police officers. This means they have to do their business in a hurry, ignoring safety measures. Tracking, capturing, handling, sometimes basic field butchering, and transporting of the carcass involves contact with potentially infected meat. Butchering (opening, cutting, dressing, and preparing the carcass) is obviously high risk for bloodborne pathogens.
“Poachers are the first contact of wildlife associated zoonotic diseases, as they mostly butcher the animals in the most inhumane manner, exposing themselves to infectious agents”, says Dr. Jackson Katampi, who is Senior Veterinary Officer at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife – DNPW. “Once they return to their communities, they become carriers and might transmit the pathogens to susceptible individuals”, he adds.
According to Dr. Katampi, there is an increased risk of spreading infectious diseases when illegal wildlife products like bushmeat exchange hands, from poachers to sellers and finally to consumers. “Poachers sell wildlife products that have not undergone any inspection by veterinarians. This significantly increases the risk of them distributing infections.” We must therefore recognize that people who handle illegal wildlife products, that is poachers, traffickers and local sellers, are as dangerous to public health as their illegal products.
Apart from Covid-19, which has devastated global health systems and economies, Dr. Katampi identifies two local zoonotic disease outbreaks that are linked to improper handling of wildlife. “There are human anthrax cases that result from consumption of wildlife products, like hippo meat in the Eastern Province. Another example is rabies in the Kafue ecosystem, which is coming from domestic dogs being used illegally to hunt in the Kafue national park.”
His caution to members of the public is threefold, “Avoid buying bushmeat or any wildlife products from illegal or unverified sources, only buy from sources approved by DNPW and report any suspicious trade in wildlife related products.”
About 60% of all known human infectious diseases are zoonotic and transfer from host animals to humans through direct contact with wildlife or through consumption of infected wildlife products like bushmeat. Without the human factor, often poachers and illegal bushmeat traders, many zoonotic disease outbreaks in humans are preventable.
Namibian vice-president Nangolo Mbumba sworn-in as the country’s new President following the death of Hage Geingob
NAMIBIAN Vice President Nangolo Mbumba has been sworn in as Namibia’s new President.
This follows the death of President Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob.
The swearing-in ceremony took place at State House this afternoon and was conducted by chief justice Peter Shivute.
Dr. Mbumba is expected to finish off Geingob’s term until the next elections.
The country’s new President, who was been Namibia’s vice-president since 2018, has served in a number of government positions, including as Minister of Finance, Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Minister of Agriculture, among some key portfolios.
Meanwhile, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has also been sworn-in as the country’s vice-president.
(Mwebantu, Sunday, 4th February, 2024)
No Zambian casualties reported in Moroccan earthquake
GOVERNMENT says no Zambians were harmed in the recent earthquake that struck Morocco.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Stanley Kakubo, made this announcement in Parliament in a ministerial statement in response to a query from Roan Member of Parliament Jimmy Chibuye regarding the well-being of Zambian students studying in Morocco following the earthquake.
Mr Kakubo explained that the Zambian community in Morocco primarily consists of students, approximately 314 of whom are registered with the Zambian embassy in various Moroccan cities.
He said the earthquake occurred during the last week of the summer holidays, meaning that some graduating students had already left Morocco, while others were still away visiting friends in different cities.
Mr Kakubo disclosed that it has been confirmed that approximately 282 students who were in Morocco at the time of the earthquake are safe, and none of their residences were affected.
“Madam speaker, it must be noted that, on the morning after the quake, the Zambian embassy in Rabat in conjunction with the Zambian Students’ Association – ZASAM, made immediate efforts to determine everyone’s wellbeing, using the student body’s communication structures that include town representatives.
Therefore, wish to indicate that all towns’ representatives confirmed that everyone was safe and secure and that no damages were reported to have affected their residences,” he said.
The Minister further said all town representatives confirmed that everyone was safe and secure, and there were no reports of damages to their residences.
Recently, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Al Haouz region in the High Atlas Mountains, situated approximately 80 kilometres from the popular tourist destination of Marrakech.
The official nationwide death toll had reached 2,901 by September 12th, with over 5,500 reported injuries, making it one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of Morocco.
(Mwebantu, Thursday, 5th October, 2023)
Hon. Stanley Kakubo, to represent President Hichilema at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema will be represented by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Stanley Kakubo at the 78th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly which is taking place from today to 26th September in New York.
Mr Kakubo is scheduled to address the General Assembly during the High-level General Debate on Tuesday, 26th September, 2023.
The theme for this year’s General Debate is: “Rebuilding Trust and Reigniting Global Solidarity: Accelerating Action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals Towards Peace, Prosperity, Progress, and Sustainability For All.”
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also in attendance at the high-level segment of the United Nations General Assembly meetings will be Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo, and Minister of Community Development and Social Services Doreen Mwamba.
“On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the Zambian delegation will attend the 2023 SDG Summit for Leaders, the high-level meetings on Financing for Development, Climate Ambition Summit, Non- Proliferation Treaty, business roundtable on Africa’s transition from the critical minerals to energy, the side event on Ending Early, Forced and Child Marriage co-hosted with Canada, and the side event focused on the Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods, among others,” reads the statement.
The 2023 SDG Summit is the main focus of the high-level meetings, which will serve as an anchor for all the high-level meetings and other side events. It is expected to mark the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals with high-level political guidance.
The Minister is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings on pertinent issues of mutual interest with other leaders.
The Zambian delegation’s participation at the UN high-level engagements is crucial to advancing the Government’s development agenda through concerted action with other Member States in the quest to find solutions to common global challenges.
(Mwebantu, Monday, 18th September, 2023)