Malawi government has put 16 out of country’s 28 districts on high alert of cholera outbreak with advise from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure quick response to the deadly disease.
Ministry of Health has said it requires K700 000 to procure supplies – including vaccines – for the 1.6 millions lives threatened by the disease — an acute diarrhea infection caused by consuming contaminated food or water — which affects children and adults, and can kill within hours if left untreated.
A cholera outbreak tbegan at the start of the rainy season in November. The disease has killed four people, and more than 150 others are hospitalized.
“As of today, we have 137 cases which we have registered from Karonga only,” said Joshua Malango, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health. “And unlike Karonga, in Nkhatabay we have 16 cases as of today, with no deaths. While in Karonga we had three deaths.”
The Kasungu and Dowa districts have registered one case each, while on Tuesday, medical workers confirmed two cases in the capital, Lilongwe.
The outbreak is believed to have been triggered by poor hygiene among residents, especially in Karonga.
Malawi’s government has embarked on a nationwide campaign to remind people to wash their hands with soap, especially after using the toilet and before eating any food.
More importantly, Malango says, the government is distributing chlorine and other chemicals to treat drinking water.
Meanwhile, in central region district of Mchinji which the district hospital has this week embarked on a mass sensitization campaign to curtail the spread of the disease after it was reported that in neighboring Zambia, the disease has killed about 40 people in the capital, Lusaka, and affected more than 1,500 others since September.
However, Malawians bordering Zambia should not panic over the Lusaka outbreak, Malango said.
Deputy health promotion officer for Mchinji district hospital, Frank Kaphaso said facility has started briefing health surveillance assistants in all health centres across the district including primary education advisers to alert all schools within their zones.
“There are high chances for the district to get affected by the disease as we have reports that all our surrounding districts have been affected. As a district, we are doing all we can to make sure that communities are safe from the disease,” he said.
Cholera remains one of the serious deadly diseases and can be transmitted from one person to another if besides medical treatment, hygiene practices are not observed.
Malawi suffered its worst cholera outbreak in 2009, when 82 people died and more than 3,000 people were infected across the country.
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