Lake Malawi swim restrictions in Karonga to curb cholera

The Health officials in Karonga the north of Malawi, have embarked on swimming restriction campaign in  the Lake of Malawi in order to curb the spread of cholera as 14 people have died while 282 cases  have been registered within a period of two months.


This was revealed during a panel discussion on the climate change effects on Saturday which was organized by the Self Help Africa with funding from the Center for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA).

Speaking during the meeting, the District Environmental Health Officer Luis Tukula said the usage of unsafe water from the Lake Malawi is the main cause for cholera hence the campaign.

“We have managed to distribute chlorine and sensitizing the community but all to no avail as the disease continues spreading especially in lake shore areas.

“However, after the research we have found out that as people swim in the lake they unknowingly drink some water hence the spread of cholera and we are also urging fishermen to carry water in bottles,” said Tukula.

According to him, “the restriction will not be a permanent one as it is only paving way for the disease to end.”

He however accused the district council officials for being inattentive in putting measures of curbing cholera disease which include cleaning the market premises among others.

“As health staff, we are worried with the filthiness of the market premises and we wonder why the district council is not serious to clean it despite the outbreak of the disease,” said Tukula.

Karonga district council chairperson Patrick Kishombe argued that the market filthiness is due to the vendors negligent as they lack ownership.

However, the market chairperson Godwin Ghambi said as vendors they are not mandated to clean the premises but the council as they pay daily tax.

He said their lives are in danger of the disease especially if the council fails to start cleaning the market.

Cholera can kill within hours if left untreated and thrives in areas of overcrowding, scarcity of safe water, poor sanitation and waste management, poor nutritional status as a result of food shortages, and poor access to healthcare services.

People with low immunity such as malnourished children or people living with HIV are at a greater risk of death if infected.

Primary prevention is possible by observing a few simple rules of good hygiene and safe water and food preparation.

These rules include thorough washing of hands with safe water and soap, especially before food preparation and eating, thorough cooking of food, and consumption while hot (“boil it, peel it or leave it”), boiling or treatment of drinking water, and use of sanitary facilities.

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