Some residents of Chipangali district are reportedly using a locally brewed alcoholic spirit commonly known as Kachasu, as a hand sanitizer to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19).
This came to light when the department of health held a COVID-19 sensitization meeting at Kasenga rural health centre in Chipangali on Friday.
The villagers said they had no access to recommended hand sanitizers hence decided to use Kachasu as a hand sanitizer. They have since requested government to distribute hand sanitizers to rural areas.
Kachasu also known as Lutuku is an illegal traditional distilled beverage from Zambia, Zimbabwe, DR Congo and Malawi consumed mainly in rural parts and poor urban suburbs.
It is normally brewed from maize though finger millet and various fruits like banana peels can also be used. The process involves adding brewers’ yeast together with the carbohydrate sources such as maize husks to warm water and heating the mixture for a few minutes. The product is then distilled after it has fully fermented.
Kachasu’s alcoholic content can vary significantly, depending on the strength of the brew and a research on the composition and safety of it conducted in 2001 by the University of Zambia – UNZA academics, found that it contained about 20 to 30% ethanol. Other studies on the beverage have found alcohol contents as high as 70%.
Chipangali District Senior Environmental Health Officer, Agripa Zulu urged those who own shops in rural areas should stock hand sanitizers so that residents could buy.
Mr. Zulu encouraged communities to observe high hygiene measures and all directives given by government. He said they should work with the Environmental Health Technologists (EHTs) to help domesticate actions put in place by government.
Mr. Zulu further encouraged villagers to report suspects who could have been in contact with people infected with the disease or had just come from high risk countries.
The community thanked the department of health for sensitisation them about the disease and providing Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials which have helped them acquire more knowledge about COVID-19.
And health officials at Mkanda, Tamanda and Vizinge health facilities, which are closer to the border with Malawi, have been urged to be on high alert as they attend to patients that come from the neighbouring country.