Minister of Health and Population Atupele Muluzi has said although the cholera situation is certainly worsening, it has not yet reached the stage where it can be regarded as an epidemic.
The Minister said this when he gave an update on the situation of cholera in the country on Thursday morning at the Ministry of Health at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, where he appealed for assistance from everyone to compliment his ministry’s efforts in trying to contain the disease.
“Many in this country still are not applying basic measures of hygiene at home and this is contributing to the spread of the disease. I am asking for your support in spreading information about how we can all better look after ourselves at home, stopping the spread of the disease in its tracks,” said Muluzi.
He has assured Malawians that the Ministry of Health together with its partners is doing everything possible to contain the situation and that the people should not despair as the situation is under control.
The Minister said ever since the first case was reported and confirmed on 24th November in Karonga at Iponga Health Centre, the Ministry of Health has been working hard with its development partners to control the situation.
“This has meant regular coordination meetings to include regular Health Cluster meetings as guided by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs.
“We have also put in place cholera prevention and control measures and activities to include ongoing health education by the Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) at the community level, and we are providing chlorine tablets to cleanse water for domestic use,” he said.
As of January 4, a total of 158 cholera cases have been reported in the country which has resulted in four deaths with Karonga registering the highest number of them at 138 including all the 4 fatalities.
Nkhatabay has reported 16 cases, Dowa two and both Lilongwe and Kasungu have had a case each and out of all these cases, 146 have been treated and are now well at home, with only seven patients in the treatment camps.
Muluzi said the intention of his Ministry is to try and test and treat patients at source and this has been achieved through rapid deployment of tented clinics in affected areas.
“You can tell by the statistics of the disease this year, we have been working hard to test then treat patients who have contracted the disease. Of course, we cannot be complacent and our Epidemiology Unit has increased its surveillance and testing of all diarrhoea diseases during this high threat period,” said Muluzi.
He revealed that with the help of the oral cholera vaccine, they have been able to treat high risk patients with 600 000 Malawians having received the vaccine since 2015 and now an order of 400 000 doses has been made to be offered to residents of Karonga, Nkhatabay and Mangochi.