Cholera outbreak threatens school feeding program: Ministry of Health assures of protection

The Ministry of Health says it is prepared to contain any diarrhoea infection caused by water and food contamination, following the opening of schools across the country where school feeding program is being implemented.

Learners receive poridge
Learners from Mafunsa primary school getting their poridge.-Photxo by Lisa Kadango,Mana

Spokesperson in the Ministry Of Health, Joshua Malango said on Monday in Lilongwe.

He said government is aware of how cholera could easily spread to school children as some parts of the country are experiencing the outbreak.

“We have intensified the prevention of cholera through campaign messages to all schools across the country and our health surveillance assistants are all over working where there is feeding program to ensure that hygiene is not compromised,” stressed Malango.

Malango said, “Teachers and guardians must ensure that pupils are using clean cups and plates when getting the porridge from schools under this program at all times.”

He said the major challenge in the fight against cholera outbreak in schools where the school feeding program is running is that children still use water from unprotected sources like rivers to wash their cups and plates.

“Government is appealing to school authorities as well as the community leaders surrounding the schools to take a big role to ensure that children served with porridge are well protected and use of treated water should be observed at all times,” he appealed.

The Ministry of Health, with support from World Food Program started the school feeding program in 24 selected primary schools in 1994 and was extended to other schools in the three cities namely Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.

The program reduces absenteeism caused by lack of food and that parents are encouraged to send their children to schools, which has resulted in high enrollment in schools benefiting from the program.

Speaking in an interview with a member for Mafutsa Primary School PTA, Lameck Tsumba in Dedza, said the school management is aware of the cholera outbreak and that prevention measures have been intensified.

“We have volunteers from Malawi Red Cross Society who help us to prepare the porridge for the pupils as well as making sure that the plates used are clean at all times,” said Tsumba.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health together with Ministry of Education are working hand in hand to spread messages in schools on the dangers of cholera which started in Karonga a month ago that has resulted into four deaths.

According to the Ministry of Health, current statistics indicate that Karonga has now recorded 155 cases, Lilongwe has recorded 18, Nkhata Bay 18, Salima 5, Dowa has registered two cases while Kasungu has recorded one case.

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