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Malawi joins regional malaria, cholera fight

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Malawi has signed an agreement with Mozambique and Zimbabwe to design and implement a coordinated response in stopping the spread of cholera and malaria in the three countries.

Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume said the three Southern African Development Community (Sadc) nations expressed the need to improve management of public health emergencies focusing on cholera and malaria at the end of a recent cross-border meeting held in Mozambique’s western province of Tete.

Malawi’s Ambassador to Mozambique Frank Viyazhi signed the agreement at the meeting, which was hosted by Mozambique’s minister of health.

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“At the moment, there is no harmonisation of best practices among the three countries, particularly in border areas, and the agreement will ensure the countries work together in managing infectious diseases.

“The three countries will work together so that the diseases do not spread beyond the borders. If all the countries agree, it means we will not have cholera on either side of the border and, should there be an outbreak, the other countries will know instantly so that they can put in place control measures,” Kumpalume said in an interview.

Malaria and diseases such as cholera are some of the major public health concerns in Sadc such that, since January this year, the three countries have collectively registered more than four million cases of the disease, with 949 deaths.

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At the meeting, supported by World Health Organisation, the countries committed to developing recommendations to strengthen epidemiological surveillance and response to priority endemic diseases in border areas.

The three countries also committed to establishing a working group and developing the standard procedures for community surveillance and institutional epidemiological surveillance as well as creating a mechanism for sharing data.

“In terms of disease surveillance, Malawi is more advanced than the neighbouring countries because we have health surveillance assistants that are not existent in the other countries. To Malawi, this is a plus because it will minimise costs that go with the agreement,” Kumpalume said when asked about how much the country is ready to invest in meeting terms of the agreement.

In March, Malawi registered cases of cholera at a health centre in Nsanje.

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