CHIMWEMWE MWALE – Lusaka
IT has been a a challenge for most travellers to South Africa, a country that is evidently one of the busiest connecting hubs for both regional and transcontinental air travel.
The mandatory requirement to bevaccinated against yellow fever to subsequently obtain a yellow fever certificate continues to irk many international itinerants in Zambia as this also comes at a cost of K300 besides the hectic run to the Lusaka District Health offices where the vaccination is administered.
This may, however, change as the good news has filtered in from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicating that Zambia has a low yellow fever potential exposure status.
In accordance with WHO international health regulations, the low yellow fever potential exposure status entails that yellow fever vaccinations are no longer recommended contrary to the existing state of affairs in Zambia.
This in essence is an effective declaration of Zambia as a yellow fever-free zone, which is also envisaged to impact positively on the country’s tourism industry which government has identified as a key sector with immense potential to help grow the economy.
The status of Zambia as a yellow fever-free zone is also significant for Africa in view of the negative publicity the continent gets because of the disease burden including the deadly vicious Ebola in some West African countries.
The Ebola outbreak has negatively impacted tourism in many African countries due to the belief that the whole continent has been affected.
Minister of Health Joseph Kasonde acknowledged receipt of a letter from WHO indicating that Zambia has attained low yellow fever potential exposure status.
Dr Kasonde said recently that this development is a result of scientific studies conducted by WHO in Zambia in 2013.
“I am pleased to inform the nation that we recently received a letter from the Director General of the World Health Organisation where she advised that results from scientific studies done in Zambia in 2013 have been analysed.
“It has been shown from these scientific studies that Zambia has low yellow fever potential exposure status,” the minister said.
The development, Dr Kasonde said, also means that travellers from Zambia to other countries do not need vaccination certificates for yellow fever to enter any country in the world.
He was however quick to point out that the final decisions are yet to be made by the concerned respective countries.
“To this effect, the Zambian Government has written to the South African Government and to the Government of Botswana drawing their attention to this scientific fact.
“We have requested them to re-look at their demands for yellow fever certificates from Zambian travellers. We await their responses,” Dr Kasonde explained.
CHIMWEMWE MWALE – Lusaka