CHIRUNDU is facing a health disaster that should not be ignored. It is saddening to learn that the local authority has seemingly allowed careless disposal of various items including pharmaceuticals.
Ordinarily pharmaceuticals are supposed to be disposed of in a safe and professional manner and should never ever end up on a dumpsite. This is unacceptable. Someone should be held accountable for this level of carelessness and disregard for public safety.
For starters, we expect that the local authority has guidelines on how different types of waste should be disposed. We do not think that it is right for people to be dumping all manner of waste at the same place which is not even secured.
This kind of negligence should not be tolerated. Government should take punitive action against the local authority for allowing this to continue.
The revelation that some residents have continued to scavenge for food from a dumpsite is disturbing. This is not something that can be ignored. It is a time bomb and a recipe for disaster.
What is even more worrying is that there are dangerous substances being dumped at the site. Yet some residents are treating this place as their source of food because of hunger in the area.
Sub-Chief Sikoongo Peter Choonga is rightly worried because of the dangers of consuming disposed food.
Mr Choonga said it was worrying that some people had continued to invade the dump side in his village to scavenge for foodstuffs oblivious to health challenges.
People have continued to search for food at the dumpsite because they think chances of finding some edible there are high. This is sad and should not be allowed. A dumpsite is the last place we should be allowing people to forage for food.
Headman Choonga said it was dismaying to see residents scrambling for expired products despite the vigorous sensitizations and education on dangers of consuming disposed foods.
He is afraid that most people consuming that food would catch diseases and this will have a negative effect on Zambia’s development.
We can imagine that apart from pharmaceuticals, there is also human waste and food being dumped there and this is where the danger comes. The food is what is attracting people to the dumpsite.
We agree with the chief that immediate action should be taken to close of the dumpsite. It would also be prudent to ensure that pharmaceuticals are not disposed of at the dumpsite but in the right manner as is the case is in hospitals.
It is dangerous to expose the public to such items which are not supposed to be disposed of anyhow. For instance, children are bound to get infected if they picked used syringes.
The Chirundu health authorities need to fence off the dump site to prevent easy access to the place.
According to the Chief, he has had meetings with the local authorities on the need to fence off the area but nothing tangible has come of this.
We wonder whether the council is waiting for a disaster such as a cholera outbreak before they can fence off the dumpsite. This kind of reactionary behavior is bad and retrogressive. It draws the nation backwards.
Immediate action is indeed needed now and that is to close the dumpsite or to fence it off. There are no other options.
The health of Chirundu residents is at stake. The local authority has a duty to look after its residents. They need to act responsibly and do the right thing now and not later.