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‘Uphold children’s rights in cholera fight’

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Save the Children has urged Malawi Government officials to ensure that children’s rights are respected in the fight against cholera.

The appeal comes at a time when some children have died from cholera after their parents and guardians stopped them from getting cholera treatment due to religious briefs.

It also comes after a United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund report released on Monday has indicated that children are heavily impacted by the ongoing cholera outbreak, constituting 35 percent of the cases (6,269) and 17 percent of the deaths (104), as of January 1 2023.

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It says, by January 1 2023, 17,824 cases had been registered, with 595 deaths.

The report pegs the rate of children affected by cholera at 35 percent.

And, speaking on Wednesday when Save the Children handed over drugs and supplies worth $55,000 (about K55 million) to the Ministry of Health, its country director Ashebir Debebe said there is a need to serve the interests of children as Malawi battles one of the worst cholera outbreaks in years.

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He then blamed climate change for the current upsurge of cholera cases.

“The cholera outbreak is the result of climate change and there is a need to address the vice; otherwise, we will continue to struggle with the negative impacts of climate change on children,” Debebe said

He said the current challenge presents the government with an opportunity to reflect on its climate change response strategy.

Debebe said his organisation expects the Ministry of Health to provide a strong platform for children’s empowerment.

“There is a need to create platforms for children to express their fears, concerns and ideas towards fighting the pandemic. And these need to be acted upon. If empowered with knowledge and skills, children will help stop cholera spread and will also actively contribute ideas to those tasked to contain the spread [of cholera],” he said.

Secretary for Health Charles Mwansambo expressed concern that the outbreak is killing more males than female, saying there is a need to ensure that no life is lost to cholera.

“Let me thank Save the Children for continuing to support the government’s efforts in ensuring universal health coverage and bringing services close to where people are” Mwansambo said

He also asked Malawians to serve as volunteers in hospitals that are serving cholera patients.

The supplies are expected to be dispatched to Nkhotakota and Mzimba North districts.

The organisation has also just extended its response efforts to districts such as Balaka, Ntcheu, and Chikwawa.

The essential drugs and supplies include ringers lactate, normal saline, oral rehydration salts, intravenous cannulas, doxycycline capsules and other essential antibiotics for the management of complicated cholera cases

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