Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has launched a campaign to end a festering cholera outbreak that is sweeping across the southern African country where it has claimed over 1,300 lives since March 2022.Chakwera launched the national Tithetse kolera (End Cholera) campaign on Monday in Mgona, one of the cholera hotspots in the capital Lilongwe.
“Our purpose today is to work together to stop the spread of cholera. We need to stop this scourge because it is killing our people,” Chakwera said.
He said the campaign was meant to interrupt cholera transmission in Malawi’s 29 districts by the end of this month and to reduce the cholera fatality rate from 3.2 percent to below one percent, which is considered by World Health Organisation (WHO) as an indicator of a controlled cholera outbreak.
“To achieve this goal, the campaign will focus on three broad activities: increasing access to appropriate cholera prevention and treatment health care services; increasing access to safe water, sanitation and improved food hygiene; and strengthening risk communication, community involvement, and social mobilization in cholera prevention and treatment,” he said.
Prior to the launch, the president visited a cholera treatment centre in Lilongwe area 25 that was refurbished and equipped with assistance from the WHO.
WHO has also deployed 40 international experts to provide emergency support to Malawi health authorities in strengthening disease surveillance, prevention and treatment measures, community engagement and multi-sectoral coordination to improve sanitation and provide safe water.
Malawi is facing its worst cholera outbreak in two decades, with over 42,422 cases and 1384 deaths as of February 12.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused when someone consumes food or water contaminated with bacteria called Vibrio Cholerae.
People living in places with poor sanitation and unclean drinking water are most at risk of getting cholera.
The Ministry of Health confirmed a cholera outbreak in early March 2022 when the disease was confined to the flood-affected areas of the southern region.
It quickly spread to other parts of the country and by the end of October all 29 districts were affected, forcing the government to declare a national public health emergency in December.