Health officials from eight districts that reported cholera cases have expressed hope that the vaccination campaign rolled out on Monday will contain the further spread of the disease.
In an interview on Monday after the launch of the campaign, Blantyre district director of health and social services Gift Kawalazira said the vaccine was one of the ways to fight the spread of the disease.
However, he said the most effective way to fight cholera was adherence to hygienic practices such as washing hands and using clean water.
“The vaccine will ensure that people’s bodies are protected against vibrio cholera, an organism that causes cholera so that they should not develop severe disease if they catch cholera,” said Kawalazira.
The Nation spot-checks in Blantyre, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Mulanje, Machinga, Phalombe, Balaka and Mangochi districts on Monday showed that people turned out in large numbers in most centres to receive the first dose.
Nsanje district director of health and social services Gilbert Chapweteka said they are targeting a population of 280 000.
“The campaign has received a positive response and we hope to reach the target,” he said.
However, Machinga district health promotion officer Clifton Ngozo said his office received reports that cholera vaccines ran out before the close of business on Monday in some centres.
He said: “Last year we had a similar campaign because we always record cholera outbreaks around Lake Chilwa.
“In 2016 we also administered the cholera vaccine,”
Ministry of Health environment health officer Wiseman Chikwaza said the campaign is targeting 1.9 million people in the eight districts.
In an interview during the launch, World Health Organisation (WHO) Malawi health emergencies preparedness and response officer Dr. Gertrude Chapotera said her organisation mobilised 3.9 million cholera vaccine doses and $1.2 million (about K969.6million) for the campaign.
“So starting from January this year when Malawi was hit by Tropical Storm Ana and flooding we anticipated that there would be a problem in diarrhoea diseases as well as cholera because many toilets and water sources were damaged.
“So, in response to that disaster, WHO mobilised cholera vaccines.”
The first cholera case was registered on March 3 this year in Machinga.
As of Sunday, the country has registered 351 cumulative cases and 19 deaths.