Revelations by health authorities in Zambia that patients in-wards at the country’s biggest COVID-19 isolation center in Lusaka, the country’s capital, have been segregated in classes that have caused consternation among citizens in the country.
Minister of Health, Chitalu Chilufya, revealed last week that the wards have been segmented into Very Very Important People (VVIP), Very Important People (VIP), and ordinary wards.
The ministry also released hotlines for people to call for each particular segment. But the move has riled citizens in this southern African nation who feel that the segmentation is a form of discrimination.
Amos Lengwe, a Lusaka-based resident says it is unfortunate that the ministry has divided the wards into segments, adding that the move is discriminatory and unfair.
“It is really a shock that the ministry can decide to divide the wards when the disease is not discriminating. This must be reversed,” he said.
John Banda, another Lusaka resident, says the segmentation means that even the treatment of the patients is different from those in VVIP and VIP wards receiving first-grade treatment while the ordinary citizens were being neglected.
“It is like those without money are not getting the best of services at the isolation center. It seems money is speaking because if you don’t have the money you cannot be admitted in the VVIP ward,” he said.
Rosemary Mbewe said the ministry should quickly reverse the move as it is bound to cause anxiety among patients as those in ordinary wards will feel neglected and discriminated against.”
Honestly, this is beyond imagination and one just wonders if this is what is happening in other isolation centers around the world. How can the ministry decide to segment the wards,” she said.
But the Ministry of Health Spokesperson, Abel Kabalo, said the segmentation of the wards is not a form of discrimination as all the patients are being given the same care and treatment.
“No, there is no discrimination because all the patients are receiving the same care and treatment,” he said. He, however, noted that the wards will be given local names in order to remove the suspicions.