“There is Cholera, postpone Mulhakho Festival” – Health Expert warn organisers

Mulhakho wa Alhomwe Festival, a cultural annual event slated for early next month must be shifted to a later date due the ravaging Cholera outbreak causing havoc, a health expert has warned.

A revered Malawian health expert, Professor Maureen Chirwa has warned the organisers of this year’s Mulhakho wa Alhomwe annual cultural festival to consider postponing this year’s event which is scheduled for October 9 to a later date as cholera continues spreading rapidly in the country.

In an interview with Nyasa Times Chirwa said with the prevailing circumstances, the Mulhako cultural ceremony poses a greater health risk because in such a gathering, hygiene is always compromised and the chances of the spread of cholera are high.

Professor Chirwa: Don’t do it:

In a separate interview. Chief Executive Officer of Mulhakho Wa Alhomwe, Pius Mvenya, said they will soon meet officials from the ministry of health to discuss how best they can hold the event while observing hygiene measures.

Recently, the Mdawuku wa aTonga (MWATO) suspended its cultural gathering for same Cholera fears.

The cholera outbreak, initially limited to the southern part of the country, has now spread to Malawi’s northern and central regions.

To date, over 1,500 cases and more than 60 deaths have been recorded with the case fatality rate at 3.9 per cent.

This is of serious concern as cases continue to rise outside the traditional hotspot districts, affecting communities and crowded areas with insufficient water and sanitation facilities.

In response to this evolving situation, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have stepped up their ongoing activities to support the Government of Malawi in containing and preventing the spread of this preventable disease in more districts.

Despite the continuing efforts in the national cholera outbreak response, and the need to intensify efforts, significant gaps exist and this includes the urgent need to strengthen surveillance system for early detection and management; increase quality case management at cholera treatment units; provide critical supplies required to manage cholera cases and for water treatment, personal hygiene and water storage at the household level; increase timely community engagement and dissemination of communications around cholera prevention, and positive hygiene practices.

UNICEF and WHO are, therefore, appealing to partners and donors for additional funds and support to address these challenges and enable them to better support the Government in its efforts to contain the outbreak.

Since the declaration of a cholera outbreak in March 2022, development partners have been working closely with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, district authorities, health centres, partners and community members in developing a response plan and coordinating the response ensuring the delivery of essential supplies and services to the families and communities in cholera-affected districts in Malawi.

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