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Ministry sounds SOS on cholera, needs K14 billion

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The Ministry of Health has sounded an SOS, saying it needs K14 billion to implement the national cholera response plan to contain the outbreak before the rainy season commences.

The ministry and World Health Organisation (WHO) want the disease to be contained within 60 days before the onset of rains to avoid worsening the situation.

Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said the ministry has activated the national response plan that includes straightening coordination through committees, rapid detection through surveillance, treatment and care, vaccination, water sanitation and hygiene.

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“The total cost to implement activities in the plan in the immediate term is estimated at $20,626,370, with a contribution from partners of $6,244,77, leaving a gap of $14,371,993 [approximately K14,507,360,000] at the time of revision of the plan,” Kandodo Chiponda told journalists in Lilongwe Tuesday.

The minister indicated that, since the first cholera case was recorded in Machinga District in March this year, a total of 22 districts have registered cases and the cumulative number of cases has surpassed 3,804.

The ministry appealed to all partners and individuals to take part in the initiative by providing support in the form of goods or services which would reduce the K14 billion deficit.

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She, however, said it is possible to prevent and defeat cholera by adhering to water sanitation and food hygiene standards.

Kandodo Chiponda said every household has to have a toilet to avoid open defecation, which also contributes to the spread of cholera.

WHO Country Representative Dr Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo said the cholera outbreak is unprecedented and has spread to Central and Northern region districts that have not registered cholera cases for over a decade.

“The current upsurge in cases is reported in the dry season, traditionally a low transmission period for Malawi. The rainy/ cyclone period occurs from November through to March, which could increase cholera transmission across the region.

“Therefore, the risk is considered to be very high at the national level,” Rusibamayila said.

Malawi has had no cholera case for the past two years. Its symptoms include diarrhoea and dehydration.

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