Cholera outbreak spreads to 16 districts

Cholera outbreak is now spreading fast, having hit 16 districts as on Friday, claiming 73 lives.

Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has confirmed that 16 districts have reported cholera cases since the confirmation of the first case this year in March in Machinga district.

She says the cholera outbreak, however, has been controlled in five districts.

In a statement, Kandodo Chiponda says in the last 14 days, the disease has been reported in 11 districts, namely Nsanje, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Rumphi, Mzimba North, Machinga, Karonga, Zomba and Balaka.

A cholera isolated tent set up by Ministry of Health in Karonga

As of 3rd September 2022, she says, a total of 47 new cases and zero new deaths were reported.

She says the cumulative cases and deaths reported since the onset of the outbreak is 1,963 and 73 respectively, with case fatality rate at 3.7%.

The minister says a total of 1,693 people have recovered and 112 are currently in the treatments centres.

Of the 16 affected districts, she says, Nkhata Bay (551 cases and 16 deaths) has reported most of the cases, followed by Blantyre (534 with 21 deaths), Nsanje (291 cases and 14 deaths), Nkhotakota (186 cases and seven deaths), Chikwawa (138 cases and two deaths), Neno (127 cases and two deaths), and Karonga (44 cases and three deaths).

She says most of the deaths occurred while in the communities or at health facilities after presenting at the facilities late for treatment.

The minister says the major factors associated with the cholera outbreak in the communities are poor food hygiene, lack of safe water and low latrines coverage and usage (open defecation).

She says the Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Health with support from partners and the communities themselves has put measures in place to prevent and control the outbreak which include setting up of treatment centres in all affected areas so that patients do not travel long distances for treatment.

She says cholera treatment near the affected areas is also an important part of cholera prevention and medical supplies are available for management of the patients.

Others include pot to pot chlorination of water in the communities where there is no safe water, saying the Ministry of Water is also in the process of putting safe water sources in the community.

She says other measures include administration of oral cholera vaccinations (OCV), contact tracing of cholera cases, engagement with local leaders to facilitate latrine construction and use including general sanitation and hygiene issues and community sensitization on prevention and control of cholera is being done in all districts in the country.

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