The Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) says government needs to apply a holistic approach in dealing with health challenges that Malawians are experiencing.
Mhen executive director George Jobe was responding to a query on the death of three people from typhoid fever in Mzuzu last week.
He said: “We need to assess why we continue to have some health conditions related to public sanitation and hygiene. We are talking of typhoid, which has killed three people now. We are also coming from a time where the country suffered a lot from cholera. We also recently talked about scabies.
“So when government is tackling these health-related problems, it should know that the initiative requires a holistic approach. It should not only involve health sector but also other organisations such as Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation Water and Development which should ensure that we have available sources of quality water.”
But in an interview yesterday, Ministry of Health (MoH) spokesperson Joshua Malango said the ministry is working with stakeholders to sensitise communities to such diseases.
He said: “Just like typhoid, cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases, the ministry is working hand-in-hand with its partners, governmental and non-governmental organisations to improve the situation of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene [Wash].”
Malango said most cases of typhoid are sporadic and not an outbreak, including the 13 registered in Kasungu early this year and the three recent deaths in Mzimba.
He said a typhoid vaccine is one of the interventions that MoH could deploy if the outbreak was to show signs of getting out of control.
A Ministry of Health report indicates that two people from the same family died at home in Mzuzu and health officials at Mzuzu Central Hospital confirmed they died of typhoid.
The report, which The Nation has seen, reads in part: “On 27th October 2018, the hospital director of Mzuzu Central Hospital notified Mzimba North Health Office that they admitted three suspected cases of typhoid fever.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) as the most effective vaccine for fighting typhoid. But Malawi has not began using the vaccine although a number of cases have recently been reported in Zomba, Blantyre, Neno, Kasungu and Mzimba.