Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa has called for more emergency measures to fight the cholera outbreak that is currently raging across many townships in Blantyre and across the country.
He said this after touring some Limbe and Makhetha dispensaries, which are among the three cholera facilities in Blantyre city with many admissions. Another one is Bangwe Clinic.
Nankhumwa commended the Blantyre District Health Office (DHO) and the entire staff for their dedication to work during this time, especially considering the fact that they are working under difficult conditions without the necessary tools required for such work.
“You can see for yourself that people are actually sleeping outside for four days or more because there are no shelters for patients as well as guardians. I have been told that many people have died at Limbe Clinic as well as at Makhetha and they continue to die because there are inadequate drugs and other equipment.
“The situation is dire and I would like to call upon the Ministry of Health to speed up the recruitment of more workers so that the situation is contained,” a visibly distraught Nankhumwa told journalists after the tour.
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, who is also Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President for the Southern Region, also called upon other stakeholders beyond just government such as non governmental players to join the fight against the outbreak like they did during the fight against Covid-19 because “this is also a crisis at the same level”.
“I have heard that there are other organizations that have come in with assistance, we thank them for that, but the situation is so dire on the ground and we need more stakeholders to come and help out,” said Nankhumwa, who described the situation as pathetic.
He also said that apart from just treating the cholera, there is need to treat the situation at the source by investing in civic educating the people and whole communities on the importance of maintaining good hygiene because cholera is spread due to lack of proper hygiene especially in the locations.
He added that as Leader of Opposition in Parliament, he will lobby for more resources to be directed towards the treatment of the disease.
Nankhumwa was accompanied by Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Dr. Mathews Ngwale, among other officials. Ngwale also described the situation as dire and warranting emergency intervention.
As of Thursday, December 29, Blantyre had recorded a total of 247 cholera cases, with Limbe (46), Makhetha (42), and Bangwe (34) topping the list.
Cumulative cases were at 1833, cumulative deaths at 85, 82 had so far been discharged.
Blantyre District Health Officer (DHO) Dr. Gift Kawalazira informed Nankhumwa that currently, cholera death rate stands at 4.4 percent. He said many people are now taking the cholera vaccine and that it is hoped the situation could improve.
He thanked the Red Cross and Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF) for their various interventions in the fight against the unprecedented cholera outbreak.
Dora Mwafulirwa who is in charge of the Limbe cholera treatment facility who took Nankhumwa around the facility, said they receiving about 4 cases on average everyday.