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Cholera rages, kills 347

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At least 347 people have died after contracting cholera since the sanitation-related disease broke out in the country in March this year.

Malawi has been battling a protracted outbreak that started in Machinga, one of the districts affected by tropical storms Ana and Gombe earlier this year.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the current outbreak as unprecedented as it has hit districts that had not experienced cholera in over a decade.

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Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said yesterday at a press conference that the country has cumulatively registered 12,135 cases.

In Lilongwe, where the disease is said to have significantly spiked in recent days, four deaths have been registered with 35 patients having been admitted to Bwaila Hospital by the time we went to press.

Chiponda said the capital city’s Area 36 and Malangalanga Market have so far been the worst affected by the acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water.

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“The major factors associated with the cholera outbreak in the communities are poor food hygiene, lack of safe water and low latrines coverage and usage. Cholera is preventable if we engage in good hygiene and sanitation practises,” Chiponda said.

She added that Bwaila Hospital’s cholera treatment centre continued to receive a lot of cholera patients from within the city.

Meanwhile, Lilongwe City Mayor Richard Banda has announced a ban on the sale of cooked foods and on cooking food at funerals.

“The city council has scaled up cholera control activities. We have immediately closed all restaurants in Lilongwe City, especially in markets. We have also scaled up refuse collection by engaging private companies,” Banda said.

Health rights activist Maziko Matemba has since bemoaned the rise in cholera cases in the country.

“The Ministry of Health needs support from the government, communities and development partners. Fortunately, the President already declared the cholera outbreak an emergency,” Matemba said.

Meanwhile, WHO has disclosed that more cholera vaccines will be arriving in the country soon.

The United Nations health agency has prescribed the use of the oral cholera vaccine as an additional intervention in controlling the disease.

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