While government insists it is winning the battle against the cholera outbreak, latest cumulative figures indicate registered cases of the epidemic have now risen to 1 010 with Machinga District remaining the most affected.
But despite the upsurge in recorded cases, the death toll has remained at 19 with 12 of them taking place in Machinga, according to health authorities.
Ministry of Health (MoH) director of preventive health services Storn Kabuluzi confirmed the increased figures yesterday but said there had been drastic reduction of daily registered cases.
The director said as of Wednesday new cholera cases in treatment camps have declined from 50 per day to only four.
Cumulatively, Kabuluzi said, Machinga had recorded 612 as of yesterday, but they had all been treated and reunited with their homes except for three who were still in treatment camp.
He said: “Despite having cumulative figure of 1 010 cases, we feel the situation has greatly improved because at the beginning we used to have about 50 cases in a ward per day but as of yesterday [Wednesday] the figure had gone down to four with Machinga remaining with three in camp while the other was in Mchinji.”
Kabuluzi attributed the decline to the additional cholera vaccine donated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which has just been administered in Machinga, particularly the hard-hit Lake Chilwa area.
The similar WHO donated vaccine was also applied in is Chikwawa and Nsanje last year and Kabuluzi hoped the area had been spared from the epidemic this year because of that vaccination.
“We vaccinated an area of about 50 kilometres around Lake Chilwa and on Lake Chilwa which started last month and we have just completed the second phase of the vaccine so we hope after one or two weeks the immunity in the population will go up and the number of cases will go down,” he added.
Machinga is a cholera prone district and started seeing suspected cases in July 2015 which were only confirmed on December 17 2015 after four cases were reported at Nayuchi and Namanja health centres both involving fishermen from Lake Chilwa.
The number of cases has tremendously increased at Lake Chilwa because of zimboweras (temporary shelters constructed on the waters) as most fishermen use the same water they defecate on.
Currently only three—Namanja, Nayuchi and Mposa—treatment centres out of 21 health facilities are still operating.
For many years the country has been struggling with cholera both in prevention and treatment and the worst recorded cases were in 2008/09 where 3250 were attacked out of which 82 died.