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Zambian president needs medical treatment abroad

It has now been revealed the president fell because his blood sugar levels had dropped significantly.

Zambia’s president needs to seek medical attention abroad, officials said Monday after the recently elected leader collapsed during a public ceremony over the weekend.

Lungu had been delivering a speech to commemorate International Women’s Day at Heroes Stadium in the capital Lusaka on Sunday when he collapsed. An aide managed to catch Lungu as he fell backward. While musicians came on stage to perform before a shocked crowd, the president was carried away, a local newspaper, The Post, reported.

At first officials said that Lungu, 58, collapsed because of malaria and exhaustion. But on Monday the president’s assistant Amos Chanda announced that the president fell because his blood sugar levels had dropped significantly.

The new president has a history of a condition that narrows his esophagus, or food pipe, which led to his low sugar levels. The condition, known as achalasia, was first treated 30 years ago and has recently recurred, Chanda said.

His doctors have now recommended that Lungu undergo “a high-tech medical procedure which is currently unavailable in Zambia,” Chanda said in a later statement Monday.

Two Zambian presidents have died in office in recent years.

Lungu became president in January, succeeding Michael Sata who died last year after a long illness. Rumors swirled about Sata’s poor health for months when the late president was rarely seen in public. Sata reassured Zambians that he was fit to lead just weeks before he died. Sata, 77, died in a London hospital in October, 2014.

President Levy Mwanawasa died in office in August, 2008.

It is not yet known when Lungu will seek treatment. The Zambian government has released several updates on Lungu’s a health with The Post reporting that journalists were invited to visit Lungu while in hospital, a shift from the Sata administration which rarely divulged information on the late president’s failing health.

The Zambian Medical Association commended Lungu’s officials for their transparency about Lungu’s health.

“If he had just departed without any explanation, that would have fueled unnecessary speculation,” said Aaron Mujajati, the association’s president.

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