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Cholera cases rise in Karonga

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Cholera continues to wreak havoc in some parts of the country, with 51 cases registered in Karonga District.

Forty-one cases were registered in Chikwawa District some months ago, and there are fears that, with the onset of the rain season accompanied by floods, more cases would be registered.

Karonga Environmental Health Officer, Lewis Tukula, confirmed the rising cases and expressed fears that the situation might worsen.

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Tukula said the death toll remains at two and said District Health Office (DHO) in Karonga is doing its best to contain the situation amid resource constraints.

He expressed concern over intermittent medical supplies for cholera patients and suspected cases.

“We still have gaps which have not been sealed; consumption of the supplies is on the higher side. There is a lot of pressure because more cases keep coming. We need more tents to isolate the patients and boost Chlorine reserves,” he said

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Tukula expressed worry that interrupted supply of piped water by the Northern Region Water Board is forcing people to drink from unsafe water sources, which are posing a health threat.

“Unavailability of safe drinking water is another contributing factor to the rapid spread of the disease. So, the dry taps remain a big worry to us, even when it comes to management of cases. But we continue to engage all the stakeholders in order to contain the situation,” Tukula said.

All the five traditional authorities in the district have been affected according to Tukula, with Mwirang’ombe’s Ngara fishing village being the worst hit due to absence of toilets among other reasons.

But NRWB spokesperson Edward Nyirenda, attributed the water challenge to prolonged power outages in Karonga and Chitipa districts.

“We sympathise with those affected, especially in Karonga where there is more demand for safe drinking water in the wake of the Cholera outbreak. We are talking with the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi to extend hours of power supply for our stations in the district,” Nyirenda said.

Health Advisory Committee Chairperson, Felix Mwakiyanjala raised fear of more deaths and implored authorities to act with speed in providing the necessary medical supplies and health education messages to the masses.

Asked on why the government is failing to supply Karonga DHO with all the necessary medical drugs and resources for managing the disease, spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said information at the ministry indicates that the district has enough stocks to manage up to 300 cases.

“There could be logistical challenges but most of our partners have come in to help. Need I say that our regional stores in Mzuzu are also well stocked, “ Chikumbe said.

He reiterated that Karonga remains one of the districts earmarked for the cholera vaccine mass administration in which six million Malawians are being targeted

Meanwhile, scouts and the Karonga Rotary Club have joined hands with the DHO for various interventions including the setting up of a fully equipped isolation camp at Karonga District Hospital.

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