Zambians express concern over president’s health

Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu will seek treatment abroad to correct a narrowing of the food pipe that caused him to fall ill on Sunday. Zambians, who lost former president Michael Sata when he died in October last year after an illness are especially concerned about Lungu’s health.

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (MARCH 09, 2015) (REUTERS) – Newly-elected Zambian president Edgar Lungu has been advised by doctors to undergo specialist treatment abroad to correct a narrowing of the food pipe which caused him to fall ill over the weekend, the presidency said.

Medical tests carried out on Lungu at a military hospital in the capital Lusaka had ruled out malaria as earlier suspected, the presidency said in a statement on Monday (March 9).

“The medical team attending to his excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, president of the Republic of Zambia, has explored options of correcting the narrowing of the food pipe that led to the illness of the president on Sunday, March 8. They have recommended as follows: that President Lungu undergoes a high tech medical procedure, which is currently unavailable in Zambia, and therefore, he has been referred for specialised treatment abroad. As announced in our earlier bulletin this morning at 01:10, President Lungu has a history of Achalasia, the condition of narrowing of the food pipe. This condition was corrected 30 years ago at a university teaching hospital, but it appears that it could have recurred,” said Amos Chanda, the president’s spokesman.

Lungu, 58, assumed the helm of Africa’s second-largest copper producer in January after winning a narrow victory in an election to replace former leader Michael Sata, who died in office in October aged 77, while undergoing treatment in London.

It was not immediately clear when Lungu would go for the treatment abroad, or which country he would go to.

Zambians in the capital, Lusaka said they were worried about the president’s illness coming so soon after he took power of the top copper producer.

“As you can see that our economy has gone down, so we just need someone who is going to pull through up to the next elections, not where we hear the President is out and in, we want a president who is consistent in everything,” said Trinie Noch, a resident of Lusaka.

“Let them come close and tell us what’s the problem is with the President of this country so that we are aware. It came late when our late President, may his soul rest in peace, his excellency Michael Chilufya Sata. They were not telling us… forcing him to go to court, go and open this, but at the end they are forgetting that they are killing him,” said Aubrey Simuchomba.

Lungu came to power on the support of his predecessor Sata – promising voters cheaper food and fuel.

Analysts say he will have little time to turn around a stuttering economy in one of Africa’s most promising frontier markets with the next general elections expected less than two years from now.