The World Health Organisation has recently confirmed that Zambia has low yellow fever potential exposure status, which means travellers should not be required to carry a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
However, despite WHO’s recommendation to drop the requirement, South Africa and Botswana continue to require travellers to carry the certificate.
Gregory Härtl, WHO Spokesperson, told Tourism Update that a yellow fever certificate was not required for travellers when they go to or come from low-risk areas. “This was specified by the expert group on yellow fever risk mapping,” he says, adding that the experts feel there is no need to impose vaccination requirements because one or two people in the country have been found to have antibodies for the disease. “These antibodies could also have been acquired by vaccination,” says Hartl.
When asked why South Africa still required travellers to carry the certificate, Prof Lucille Blumberg, Deputy Director: National Institute for Communicable Diseases, told Tourism Update: “Zambia is still included on the WHO risk list as a low-risk yellow fever country, based on a low risk in the area bordering the DRC.”
The Zambian tourism industry has urged the Zambian government to expedite the yellow fever impasse with South Africa. Ade Coley, owner of Flatdogs Camp, explains South Africa’s insistence on the yellow fever certificate is impacting negatively on tourism. “Why would a tourist pay for and go to the trouble of getting a vaccination when they can go to Zimbabwe and not have it.”
Coley adds that it is suspected that South Africa is imposing the requirement as a barrier to deter tourists from leaving South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe and coming to Zambia. “South Africa should remove the requirement immediately as they are stifling tourism in a fellow SADC country. It is purely a non-tariff trade restriction!”
Zambia’s Health Minister, Joseph Kasonde, said in a statement at the beginning of January, that the Zambian Government had written to the governments of South African and Botswana, drawing their attention to the WHO evidence. “We have requested them to relook at their demands for yellow fever certificates from travellers from Zambia. We await their responses,” he said.