Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi says although the cholera situation is worsening, it is not yet an epidemic.
Giving an update on Thursday in Lilongwe on the cholera situation in the country, the minister appealed for assistance from everyone to complement the ministry’s efforts in containing the disease.
“Many in this country still are not applying basic principles of hygiene at household level and this is contributing to the spread of the disease. I am asking for your support in spreading information on how we can all better look after ourselves at home to stop the spread of the disease,” he said.
Muluzi assured Malawians that the Ministry of Health and its partners are doing everything possible to contain the situation and that people should not despair as it is under control.
The minister said ever since the first case was reported and confirmed on 24th November in Karonga, the ministry has been working 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 (Dodma).
“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 community level, and we are providing chlorine tablets to cleanse water for domestic use,” he said.
As of on Thursday, 158 cholera cases, including four deaths, had been reported with Karonga registering the highest number at 138.
Nkhata Bay has reported 16 cases, Dowa two and both Lilongwe and Kasungu have had a case each. There are seven patients in treatment camps.
Muluzi said the intention of his ministry is to 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 and 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 diarrhoeal diseases during this high threat period,” he said.
Muluzi revealed that with the help of the oral cholera vaccine, they have been able to treat high risk patients and that 600 000 Malawians have received the vaccine since 2015. He added that an order of 400 000 doses has been made to be offered to residents of Karonga, Nkhata Bay and Mangochi.