By Jameson Chauluka:
Malaria, diarrhoea, eye and respiratory tract infections are dominating health problems among people living in camps after being displaced by floods in the country.
The prevalence of the diseases has come to light as South African health experts continue their mission of screening people and treating them for ailments in the camps.
On Friday, the experts visited Mpama Camp, Village Head Matimati, Traditional Authority Makhuwira, in Chikwawa.
Colonel Modikana Langa, South African Relief Coordinator, said it is children and expectant mothers who are falling sick.
“What is happening is that, when we come to a camp like this one, we screen people on the ground before treating them. We pay particular attention to children as well as expectant and breastfeeding mothers,” he said.
Weeks after the Southern Region received heavy rains which caused flooding in many parts of the country, aerial shots over Chikwawa show that large parts of the district remain submerged and inaccessible by road.
People continue living in congested camps where diseases are common.
Penjani Chunda, Blantyre District Health Office Principal Environmental Health Officer, hailed the South African health experts for supporting the exercise.
“These people are helping us a lot. They are operating in areas that are hard to reach by road. Again, when they find people who are critically ill, they are referring them to major hospitals,” he said.
Chunda said the government would intensify sanitation initiatives in the camps to prevent the spread of diseases.
“You see, what is happening is that, with the floods, there are a lot of stagnant waters which, are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and, again, the safety of water cannot be guaranteed. Large numbers of people are sleeping in a room and this makes it easy for them to contract respiratory tract infections,” he said.
So far, 56 people have died while 577 others were injured in the disaster.