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Mhen for tough measures in cholera hotspots

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The Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) has said the government should consider banning the use of unsafe water sources such shallow wells and rivers for domestic purposes in cholera hotspots.

The network has also asked the government to use force on some believers who do not seek medical services from health facilities.

As of Tuesday afternoon, official records were showing that, since November 2017, 20 people have died and 720 cholera cases have been registered, with Lilongwe, Karonga and Salima registering more cases than other districts.

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Mhen Executive Director, George Jobe, said it is clear that people in some of the areas affected by cholera need boreholes and piped water.

Jobe said it is not enough to tell community members to use clean water for drinking while the same people are using water from unsafe sources such as wells and rivers for washing clothes, bathing and cleaning utensils.

“The water that we use for washing hands should be as clean as the water we use for drinking. There should not be any demarcation. We should be using clean water in almost everything. At the moment, in the hotspots, we need to ban the use of water from rivers, shallow wells by making available clean sources of water; otherwise, we may be getting defeated,” Jobe said.

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Health and Rights Education Programme Executive Director, Maziko Matemba, said cholera is becoming an emergency that requires the involvement of community members.

“Some of the community-based organisations have experience in dealing with issues like these. The community aspect has to be harnessed because, if we use the facility level, that is where we have a challenge. Our facilities are not many to treat all cases and people can travel a distance of between 10 and 15 kilometres to access services. We need to involve communities to win the fight against the outbreak,” he said.

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