Zambian president collapses at Women's Day event

Zambian President Edgar Lungu. (Reuters)

Zambian President Edgar Lungu. (Reuters)

The Zambian president collapsed after giving a speech during a Women’s Day event in Lusaka on Sunday, less than two months after the 58-year-old took over from a leader who died in office.

Lungu was rushed to a military hospital, but the presidency later issued a statement saying he was receiving treatment for malaria but there was no need for concern.

“I am feeling much better and have been told I have high levels of fatigue and should take some rest,” Lungu was quoted as saying in the statement, adding: “There is nothing to worry about.” Lungu later told a press briefing at the hospital: “I am looking forward to going home. Doctors have done their tests and they have found traces of malaria, but they are doing further tests and they will let me know what next after before the end of the day. 

“They will tell me what to do and not to do, et cetera,” he said, declining to take questions.

Not Malaria
Officials in Zambia said further tests have shown that malaria was not the cause the president’s collapse during a public ceremony over the weekend.

A statement on Monday from the Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s assistant, Amos Chanda, said medical tests ruled out a full malaria infection.

Chanda said further tests had shown that the president’s blood sugar levels had dropped significantly, which lead to his collapse. 

The statement said Lungu has a history of a condition that narrows his esophagus, or food pipe, which led to his low sugar levels. Lungu will require immediate medical treatment abroad to correct the narrowing of his food pipe, Chanda said.

“Doctors have recommended 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,” said Chanda.

Lungu came to power in January after the death in office of president Michael Sata in October. 

Rumours that Sata was ill had circulated widely before his death, but were always denied by the government. 

Sata was Zambia’s second leader to die in office in six years, sparking calls for presidential aspirants to undergo medical checks to guarantee their fitness. – Sapa, AFP

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