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Malawi scrambles to secure US$6 Million for cholera fight despite eradication pledge

Malawi scrambles to secure US$6 Million for cholera fight despite eradication pledge

MALAWI—The Ministry of Health, through the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and Cholera (PTF), has reported that there is a US$5.9 million gap from the US$18.2 million required to implement cholera activities from November 2023 to October 2024.

This announcement was made by the Co-Chairperson of the task force team and Minister of Health, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, during a press conference in Lilongwe to inform the nation on the progress of cholera and that US$12.2 million is available from the total sum.

She also stated that the ministry has created a Cholera Preparedness and Response Plan to guide cholera initiatives, as well as a health sector framework for operational planning and budgeting, which aids in the coordination of support for national and international partners and donor organizations.

Chiponda noted that Malawi is committed to the global goal of eradicating cholera by 2030 and has therefore requested partners to help bridge the gap for the country to get essential supplies for cholera management.

According to the ministry, since the government declared cholera no longer a national public health emergency in August, Malawi has reported sporadic cases and very few deaths.

Meanwhile, 47 cases of cholera have been documented in the country, with two deaths, from December 20, 2023, to January 20, 2024, according to sources.

Cholera has been endemic in Malawi since 1998, with seasonal outbreaks reported throughout the rainy season (November through May), particularly in the southern region, which is low-lying, flat, and prone to flooding during the rainy season.

The effects of a humanitarian crisis, such as the interruption of water and sanitation infrastructure or the migration of populations to inadequate and overcrowded camps, can raise the risk of cholera transmission if the bacteria is present or introduced.

To manage cholera outbreaks and reduce deaths, a multi-sectoral approach that includes monitoring, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), social mobilization, treatment, and oral cholera vaccinations is required.

Malawi is the first African country to use the Global Task Force for Cholera Control’s recently updated technology to identify priority areas for multi-sectoral interventions (PAMIs, also known as hotspots) for cholera control.

As the country creates a multi-sectoral cholera control strategy, this method is timely.

PAMI categorizes data at the traditional authority level by using geographical maps produced from the National Statistical Office’s national census survey.

This approach enables the identification of cholera-affected locations, allowing for the exact prioritization of actions by various partners and stakeholders.

With these maps, resources can be directed more efficiently to cholera hotspots, optimizing their impact in instances where resources are scarce, such as emergency preparedness.

A multi-sectoral strategy is required to supplement case management and immunization efforts, with the goal of identifying and addressing the unique requirements of each location.

These interventions include clean drinking water, proper hygiene practices, public awareness, education, and tailor-made interventions based on the illness load in each location.

It is envisaged that by addressing these elements consistently and precisely, the cholera load can be decreased by up to 80%, paving the road for cholera control in the country.

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