Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) has issued a scathing attacking on the Ministries of Health and Sanitation as well City Councils — blaming the government institutions for exacerbating the current cholera outbreaks and high number of deaths.
The last cholera situation report from the Ministry of Health was released on November 29 indicated that from the cumulative figure of 10,652 of registered cases since March this year, the disease has claimed 310 deaths.
Since then there are no more updates on the Ministry’s Facebook page where it posts the situation reports on cholera and CoVID-19 but unconfirmed reports circulating on social media on Wednesday indicated that Blantyre registered 67 new cholera cases and three related deaths.
The new cases were reported in Bangwe (22), Makhetha (17), Gateway (10), Limbe (6), Chirimba (3), Ndirande (3), Zingwangwa (3), Chileka (2) and Mpemba (1).
In the statement, CAMA Executive Director, John Kapito maintains that these rising are “as a result of Government negligence to maintain and provide adequate sanitation and quality public health care in most parts of the country”.
Kapito blames Government that it is aware about the poor quality of health care and hygiene within the communities and singles out markets as the “worst unhygienic places with poor sanitation where sewer spew is the source of water in most the markets and other public places”.
He said the authorities are in full knowledge of the terrible conditions of the market and “are pretending to be in shock with the many deaths by cholera as if they are not part of the problems and failures” of the containment of the outbreak.
“Over time, [the authorities] have failed to provide basic amenities to prevent these outbreaks and most of the markets and other public places do not have any public toilets and there is no provision of running piped water.
“The very same authorities have allowed the sale of unclean water from sources such as pit latrines and various unreliable sources including the sale of perishables in the markets that are washed by water mixed with sewer.
“Ministries of Health, Sanitation and the City Councils abandoned their responsibilities and mandates to protect people. The City Councils and Ministry of Health must realize that allowing the uncontrolled influx of unhealthy and unhygienic products — such as fresh food and other perishables from unregulated and every corner of the streets — is a source of the many disease outbreaks that are affecting the lives of innocent people.”
Thus CAMA maintains that Ministries of Health, Sanitation and the City Councils have made “markets and other public places to become major sources of dangerous disease outbreaks such as cholera and they must be held responsible for the high cholera deaths”.
The three government institutions have since been asked to ban any sale of perishables such as fruits (mangoes etc.) vegetables, fresh maize and others from any unregulated places and to stop the spewing of sewage in most markets.
“CAMA is calling on the Government to take immediate action to ensure that further deaths are prevented through the supply of safe water, good sanitation, food safety controls are adequately provided in all markets.
“CAMA is also appealing to Government to immediately do the following;
1. All goods and services offered in the markets should be verified by the City Public Health inspection teams and Ministry of health to ensure that they are safe for human consumption;
2. All markets to be provided with adequate public toilet facilities, piped running water with proper and safe structures for product display;
3. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation to coordinate with City Councils to ensure that sewer pipes and sewer leakages works are rehabilitated;
4. Strengthen disease surveillance, monitor water quality and chlorinate public water supplies, and promote health education and hygiene among those affected and at-risk communities; and
5. The authorities must invest in proper sanitation and health infrastructure and ensure universal access to health care.
“The Government must learn from these mistakes and take appropriate action that stops people dying from preventable diseases like cholera,” Kapito said in the statement issued today, Thursday.
From Washington DC, where Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) accompanied President Lazarus Chakwera for United States-Africa Leaders’ Summit, Peter Makawa reported that the World Bank has committed to resume budgetary support by disbursing $50 million (over K51 billion) and 100 million (over K102 billion) towards the cholera fight and some recurrent expenditures in the health sector.
He quoted World Bank Regional Vice-President for Eastern and Southern Africa, Victoria Kwakwa, as having disclosed this when she met Chakwera on the sidelines of the Summit.
The report said the World Bank had agreed to step up engagements and support Malawi as the country navigates through difficult economic situations and that the $50 million — which will be made available soon — is for the budget to support maize purchases and the fight against cholera.
Kwakwa is quoted as saying: “We also have $100 million of support through an emergency health project that will support recurrent expenditure to get health personnel in place and other needs in the sector.
“That is also going to be approved next week. We will disburse the first $50 million immediately and the rest of it will come in due course.”
Kwakwa also disclosed that they discussed some of the economic challenges facing the country, more broadly in the water and sanitation sector — which CAMA has asked the two Ministries to solve as a matter of urgency.