Malawi has run out of oral cholera vaccine stocks, triggering fears of more cholera cases as the death toll continues to rise.
In the past 24 hours on Monday, 30 people died of cholera, bringing the number of deaths to 1,000.
Health authorities say they are now engaging the World Health Organisation (WHO) for possible support to procure a batch of the oral cholera vaccine following a depletion of stocks in facilities across the country.
About 29,500 cholera cases have been registered with more than 1000 deaths since March last year.
Malawi’s last receipt of the serum was in November where 2.9 million doses came into the country following a sharp increase in cases.
Co-chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid19 and Cholera, Wilfred Chalamira Nkhoma said while they acknowledge depletion of the country’s vaccine stocks, they are continuing to engage the WHO for further support.
Meanwhile, health rights advocate and Executive Director for the Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) George Jobe, has called upon the WHO to make a special consideration for Malawi as it battles the outbreak.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has urged government to ammend section 45(2)(h) of the Constitution, which protects the right to freedom of belief or religion, to address the issue of some people who are refusing to receive cholera vaccination or go to the hospital when they fall sick, based on religious doctrines.
CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa says people should remember that human rights, including the right to freedom of religion, come with responsibilities and one of those is to ensure that one is enjoying their rights without violating those of others.
He says those that are refusing to be vaccinated are putting other people’s lives at risk.
However, Malawi Law Society (MLS) President Patrick Mpaka said they have not seen statistics which justify a call for constitutional amendment for such protected provisions like sections 33 and 34.
He said it is generally not advisable that people think of changing the law, let alone the Constitution, every time there is an issue.
Gender rights group, Men for Gender Equality Now said the revelations that men are the biggest casualties of cholera should compel the authorities to devise special messages targeting this section of society.
Statistics from the ministry of health confirm that the diarrhoeal infection is killing more men than women in the 45 years and above age bracket.
According to the latest Epidemiological Bulletin, some 8,600 males were diagnosed with cholera between 19 and 25 December, 2022 – representing 56 percent while 6,760 were females; representing 44 percent.
Commenting on the subject, Men for Gender Equality Now spokesperson, Marcel Chisi said men often have tight schedule, and thus need specific timing and messaging in terms of cholera interventions.