As Malawi is still grappling to contain the cholera outbreak, the Ministry of Health will from Monday next week roll-out the first round of cholera vaccination campaign in targeted eight districts.
Speaking in an interview, Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said the vaccine will be administered in Chikwawa, Nsanje, Blantyre, Machinga, Phalombe, Mulanje, Mangochi and Balaka.
The vaccination campaign targets 1.9 million people comprising adults and children from one-year-old upwards.
The targeted people will receive two doses of cholera vaccines, two weeks apart.
“In Chikwawa and Nsanje, we are going to vaccinate everyone while in other districts we will vaccinate a targeted population.
“Initially, we planned to vaccinate five districts, however, due to the rise in cholera cases, we increased the number to eight, plans are there to add more districts including Neno,” said Chikumbe.
On increasing number of cases, Chikumbe said efforts to contain the outbreak are bearing fruits looking at daily recordings of the cases.
“For a single case of cholera, 20 more transmissions are expected, which means that the figures could have multiplied but looking at the daily recordings, I think the efforts are bearing fruits,” he said.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 272 cases, with 11 deaths. Case Fatality Rate is at 4. 04 percent.
Currently, there are 15 admissions in the treatment centers and 206 as cumulative discharges.
Districts affected include Nsanje with 115 cases and seven deaths, Neno 58 cases with one death, Blantyre 74 cases with two deaths, Machinga two cases, Chikwawa 22 cases and Mulanje one case.
Health and Human Rights advocate Maziko Matemba described the situation as alarming and sad, calling for more investments in community health as cases are happening at community level.
“It is sad that despite the rising numbers, people are just living as normal, no bylaws, no expected environmental changes especially in cities and flood prod areas where we know issues of hygiene are already compromised,” said Matemba.
He said it is high time Malawi developed strategies to eliminate Cholera, a hygienic condition which has been a health problem in Malawi for long.
Matemba hailed government’s idea to administer cholera vaccine in all cholera prone districts but urged for more awareness on the vaccine for proper understanding by the public.
In Chikwawa, director of health and social services Stalin Zinkanda said they have five people in admission and eight suspects in isolation.
Said Zinkanda: “The first case was reported in Nchalo which is now a hotspot, most of the cases are being treated at Montfort mission hospital. To control further spread, we are distributing chlorine for water treatment, and engaging village health committees in promoting hygiene and to help us in tracking suspected cases.”
Early this month, Malawi received 1.9 million doses of oral cholera vaccine from the Global Emergency Stockpile for the first round of the vaccination campaign as an emergency response to the outbreak.
The consignment came with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and partners.
Malawi registered the first cholera case this season in February. The case that was registered in Machinga emanated from Balaka. Nsanje followed with first five cases on March 5, all imported from Migaza in Mozambique.
Cholera is an acute diarrhea infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholerae.