* With support from World Health Organization (WHO), exercise will commence on Monday, November 28 till December 2
* Started with a training of vaccinators and volunteers drawn from the district
* We will start with selected areas that were badly hit by the outbreak and the target is all people from the age of 12 months and above
By Evelyn Macloud, MANA
Following high cases of cholera being registered in Nkhata Bay, the district’ health office (DHO) says everything is set to roll out the first round of oral cholera vaccination (OCV) campaign — targeting about 207,000 people.
Nkhata Bay’s environmental health officer, Gabriel Chipeta said the campaign — which is supported by World Health Organization (WHO) — will commence on Monday, November 28 till December 2.
Speaking at Nkhata Bay Boma on Thursday during a training of vaccinators and volunteers drawn from the district, Chipeta said they are determined to vaccinate the targeted number of the population.
“We will start with selected areas that were badly hit by the outbreak and the target is all people from the age of 12 months and above,” he said.
The training was organised as one way of capacity building for vaccinators and volunteers in order for the exercise to be a success and Chipeta added that the vaccine had already arrived in the district and his office was ready to embark on distribution to health facilities across the area.
One of the volunteers, Chimbizgani Mhone said he was ready to be part of the sensitisation and community mobilisation in readiness for the campaign.
So far Nkhata Bay has recorded 1,358 cholera cases accompanied by 38 related deaths.
Meanwhile, concerned with the rising cases of cholera, Nkhata Bay’s Traditional Authority (T/A) Zilakoma appeals for support from government, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders in the fight against cholera in his area.
Speaking on Monday at Tukombo when the Department of Civic Education under the Ministry of National Unity was engaging citizens on how best the problem of cholera can be handled, Zilakoma said the main challenge at Tukombo area was inadequate pit latrines.
“We are worried with the situation,” he said. “The problem with this area is that the soil is sandy and it is difficult for people to have standard toilets because people here are low income earners.
“Government and NGOs should come in to support this area with, perhaps community toilets or any other initiative that will help people have strong toilets because they easily fall down because of the sandy soil,” Zilakoma said.
The citizen engagement which was recorded for Malawi Wanga — a Malawi Broadcasting Cooperation (MBC) programme — indicated that 1,375 cases of cholera had been reported in Nkhata Bay and by November 21, 38 related deaths had been recorded — with 14 deaths from Tukombo alone.
Tukombo area lacks portable water despite being close to Lake Malawi. It is a hub of fishing where citizens from across the nation meet but use of latrines is a problem.
The area’s Councillor, Acklan Medson Chenya said Minister of Water Development promised 12 boreholes for Tukombo area but none has been drilled up to now.
“We were asked by the Minister to identify 12 sites to sink boreholes in this area which we did but up to now not a single borehole has been drilled,” lamented Chenya.
District Medical Officer, Dr Joel Mtonga said medical practitioners were doing all they could in dealing with the problem.
“Behavioural change is a gradual process but we will continue with our strategies as we engage the communities on sanitation issues and having self latrines so that more and more solutions can come from the people themselves,” he said.
Director of Civic Education in the Ministry of National Unity, Misheck Yagontha Munthali said the meeting was important to let people know that cholera was really around them.
“Cholera is still with us and through our engagement with people here, we are telling Malawians that citizens should continue to observe good hygiene.
“We would like to appeal to the Ministry of Works to design simple technologies of strong toilets that can withstand conditions of lakeshore areas because on their own, people are not capable of constructing strong toilets and when the toilets fall down, they give up and continue to openly defecate — which is so hazardous,” he said.
Tukombo has a population of 2,750 people was the first to register a cholera case in the Northern Region.—Additional reporting by Maravi Express