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USaid boosts cholera fight

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MTEMA—The recruitment is based on need

By Deogratias Mmana:

The United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) has recruited 70 healthcare officers as an emergency response to the cholera outbreak in Malawi.

Usaid has recruited the personnel through its Momentum Tiyeni Project, with the contracts running for four months.

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Chief of Party for Momentum Tiyeni Project Olive Mtema disclosed this when project implementers handed over 80 buckets of chlorine valued at K12.8 million to Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe.

“We have recruited 70 emergency staff on four-month contracts. The recruitment is based on need,” Mtema said.

She said the people will be stationed in districts where the project is being implemented, notably Lilongwe—which has received 20 officers.

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Ten healthcare workers have been earmarked for Mangochi District.

Mtema said USaid is spending about K300,000 on each recruit.

Lilongwe District Medical Officer Thokozani Liwewe described the move as timely, saying, in the face of Malawi’s worst cholera outbreak in decades, the need for additional healthcare personnel cannot be overemphasised.

Liwewe said the number of nurses against patients at Bwaila do not add up although the government deployed three clinical officers, nine nurses and six hospital attendants.

“We still need people on the ground because of the demand and care needed,” Liwewe said, adding, “We need utmost one nurse attending to three patients because the patients need close care and monitoring. So, to have four nurses attending to 80 patients— the gap is quite big.”

She disclosed that Bwaila gets about 150 admissions at one goal and, on average, three cholera patients lose their lives.

As of Friday, statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that 16 people died of cholera, raising the number of deaths to 795. The country registered 530 new cases and 921 cases were admitted in treatment units.

A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Health announced that it would be recruiting emergency health staff to combat cholera.

Last week, Principal Secretary for Health Charles Mwansambo urged Malawians to be volunteering services in the cholera fight.

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