Malawi has launched a vaccination campaign to help prevent cholera outbreaks. Authorities have reported more than 350 cases and 17 deaths from cholera in eight districts in southern Malawi.
Malawi’s Ministry of Health announced a cholera outbreak in early March after the first case was confirmed in Machinga district of southern Malawi.
The disease has so far spread to eight districts including Nasanje, Chikwa and Blantyre.
The ministry in its latest report on Monday said that the country has recorded 367 cases of cholera with a total of 17 deaths and 19 hospitalisations.
Dr. Gertrude Chapotera represented the World Health Organization at the launch of the vaccination campaign in Blantyre on Monday.
He said the campaign is underway with support from various global partners, including the Gavi Vaccine Alliance and the Global Action for Cholera Control.
“We are supporting the Ministry of Health with up to 3.9 million doses, which will be administered in two rounds,” he said. “So this is really just the start of the first round, which will run through Friday, May 23, with the campaign starting today. May 27 this week.”
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by consumption of food or water contaminated with bacteria. The disease affects both children and adults and can die within hours if left untreated.
Dr. Gift Cavalzilla is the Director of Health and Social Services at Blantyre. He says the district has seen around 100 cases of cholera so far, including five deaths, but only three hospitalized till Monday.
“This means that cholera is a disease that is easily reversible and we have treatment options,” Kavalzilla said. “So, the general message to the general public is to quickly introduce our health workers to our various health conditions. Whenever they see signs and symptoms of cholera, which is a lot of diarrhea and in some cases vomiting.
Health officials say many people are coming for vaccination, with some districts lacking doses.
Elenafe longwe is among those who have received the cholera vaccine in Blantyre. Longwe says he had not received a COVID-19 vaccine, citing fears of blood clots and other health problems.
“But with that, I haven’t heard any problems, so I’m okay with that and I’ve got it and I’m fine,” Longway said.
Meanwhile, the health ministry says it has intensified public education to prevent cholera transmission. These include the use of clean water for domestic purposes and the observance of personal hygiene.