Cholera outbreak attributed to cylones Ana and Gombe

Partners In Health (PIH), popularly known as Abwenzi Pa Zaumoyo in areas where it is implementing its projects, has attributed the recent cholera outbreak to cycles Ana and Gombe, which affected sanitation facilities in districts that were hit by the two natural disasters.

Speaking at the official launch of Neno Oral Cholera Vaccination Campaign, which is third hardly hit district by cholera, PIH Director of Community Health Programs, Jones Chimpukuso, said the cyclones destabilised systems much that provision of quality health services to the communities was almost impossible.

Dr Grace Momba

He said there is a need for shifts in behavioural change and increased access to clean water sources in order to curb the outbreak.

“Cyclone Gombe and Ana affected many areas including Neno so much that a lot of sanitary facilities collapsed and even made it very difficult for people to access health services.

“Now with cholera our operations have highly been disturbed; instead of focusing on provision of quality services to the communities we have again been diverted to start responding to this emerging issue of cholera.

“Most of our communities have very limited access to safe water and this compromises their well-being and living standards.

“A lot needs to be done as a country, we need to hold hands in order to bring about behavioural change so that people are able to prepare food in hygienic ways and safe water is highly accessible to everyone,” he said.

Chimpukuso added that Oral Cholera vaccine is coming in, to prevent people from contacting and also controlling further spread of cholera.

He said PIH believes creation of more awareness and increased access to the cholera vaccination uptake through the campaign, which will run from 25th July to 6th August of 2022 will save a lot of lives from suffering and succumbing to cholera.

“We thought of starting by training the health officers to ensure that they are fully equipped for them to be able to cancel out myths on the ground associated with Oral Cholera Vaccine with the truth,” said Chimpukuso.

One of the forty-one training participants, Director of Health and Social Services for Neno District Council, Dr Grace Momba, said the training is a good way to start the campaign. She said content shared during the training has sharpened her and she will be able to have a properly accessed plan on how best to conduct the Oral Cholera Vaccination campaign for it to yield the intended results.

“Access to safe water is the biggest challenge faced in Neno district, therefore this campaign will sensitise people to make sure they use water that has been treated with chlorine at all times, wash hands with soap after using the toilet and before handling food. We will also advise them to make sure the water sources they are drawing water from are well taken care of and protected.

“Nation-wide, we are number three and we currently have 124 cholera positive cases and have had two deaths so far. This is not something to be proud of because we are still registering more cases by the going of days,” she said.

“If somebody suspects themselves of having cholera or knows they have been in contact with someone who is cholera positive, I would advise them to seek immediate help at their nearest health facility. They can also contact Health Surveillance Assistants responsible in their area who will assist them accordingly but most of them all people need to embrace hygienic practices,” emphasized Momba.

PIH has allocated MK80 million for the exercise and the Oral Cholera Vaccine doses have been provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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