Government has provided relief maize to some areas in Western Province affected by the Konzo disease caused when people ate poisoned cassava given to them as relief food by a charitable organisation.
Wersten Province minister Poniso Njeulu said the Government through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) has so far released 156 bags of maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) shelters.
He said the maize is meant to reduce cases of the Konzo disease outbreak that had continued to attack people eating a certain type of cassava which had been imported into the area as food relief.
‘’We as Government are doing all that we can to improve the current situation of the outbreak of the disease; currently we have received 156 bags of maize that we have continued to deliver to parts of the province like Mongu and Sikongo who are affected by the disease,’’ he said.
He said the hunger situation had badly hit the province, compelling people to eat poisoned cassava and cassava leaves.
He disclosed that the cassava called Nalumino was not produced in Zambia but had been discovered to be donated by a charitable organization to curb hunger in the area.
‘’We have come to realise that the cassava that is causing this Konzo disease is not from crops that have been cultivated on their land but it was brought as relief food by an organisation trying to address the hunger situation in the area,’’ Mr Njeulu said.
He advised people in the area to stop eating the cassava that has continued to increase the number of victims of the disease.
He said Government will continue to come to the aid of the people of the province and said that it was unfortunate that the disease was incurable and permanent.
‘’The only way we can get rid of this disease is by ensuring we do things correctly. I would like to urge the people in the affected areas and even those that have not yet recorded any cases of the disease yet to ensure the cassava is processed before they can eat it.
‘‘Usually they have to sock it for seven days before they can eat it but hunger has compelled them to eat it without being processed together with its leaves that they use as relish,’’ the minister said.
He said Government had also embarked on sensitization programme for awareness to be created about the disease and how it can be avoided. Mr Njeulu said there was no need for people to be alarmed about the paralysis as it was not contagious.
‘‘We have embarked on sensitization programme, not much alarm should be created because this disease cannot be passed on to anyone sexually or in any other form; it only affects the person who suffers from it,’’ he added.