Two more people, including an under-five child, died of cholera in Lilongwe on Wednesday, bringing the national death toll to 12.
The deaths occurred at Matapila and Kang’oma health clinics in Traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe.
Confirming the deaths, Ministry of Health (MoH) spokesperson Joshua Malango yesterday said the new figure of cumulative cholera cases also rose to 560 on Wednesday, from 546, on Tuesday this week.
He expressed worry over the rising number of deaths, attributing it to people’s negligence on going to the hospital earlier for treatment.
“I can confirm that, currently, we have a rising number of deaths. The issue is about hygiene and that the deceased were taken to the hospital very late,” stressed Malango.
This week, government blamed some communities for their beliefs that cholera is caused by witchcraft. Patients die because, rather than rushing them to hospitals, relatives waste time by giving them traditional medicine that cannot cure them, the government said.
As of yesterday, Karonga had the highest number of cases pegged at 281, seconded by Lilongwe which had 171.
Other affected districts are Salima (46), Nkhata Bay (20), Likoma (13), Nsanje (6), Rumphi 10, Dowa (5), Mulanje (4) and one case each for Kasungu, Dedza, Blantyre and Chikwawa.
This means the rise in the cumulative figure rose by 2.5 percent in 24 hours.
Currently, only Karonga is giving cholera vaccines to communities. Lilongwe, whose cases are also on the increase, has yet to offer vaccines to communities.
However, according to Malango, a second consignment of vaccines is on the way and will serve other districts where cholera cases are increasing.
Meanwhile, MoH is urging people to rush patients with tell-tale cholera signs, like vomiting and diarrhoea, to the hospital.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines cholera as an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food and water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholera. n