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Zambia delays resumption of academic year due to national cholera outbreak


Zambia delays resumption of academic year due to national cholera outbreak

Zambia’s Ministry of Education will delay the start of the academic year for students today due to a widespread cholera outbreak.

Both primary and secondary students initially set to resume school today will resume classes on January 29. The outbreak, driven by inadequate sanitation infrastructure in some parts of the country, has spurred concerns about the nation’s health security.

Since October, Zambia’s Ministry of Health has reported over 4,000 confirmed cases and 98 fatalities in five of the country’s ten provinces. In response, Zambia has mobilized efforts to clean learning institutions, install handwashing facilities, and distribute disinfectants in all educational settings. Nearby countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe have also faced cholera outbreaks in recent months.

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The government has been in talks with the World Health Organization (WHO) to acquire a cholera vaccine by the end of this month. However, experts anticipate that the outbreak will be worsened by heavy rains. As a result, expect continued social disruption throughout Zambia as fear of infection leads people to avoid work and other public places. The outbreak also dampens optimism around last year’s debt restructuring agreement which would save Zambia $7.6 billion by 2026 and would have given the southern African country much-needed time to stabilize its economy, implement reforms and pursue long-term growth.

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