Cholera cases that as of last week stood at 124 are further expected to skyrocket to unimaginable figures particularly in hot spot districts following revelations that the Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) which the country requested from (WHO) World Health Organisation will not be made available due to short supplies and extreme cases in neighbouring countries.
Malawi also faces a risk of aggravated cases of the viral disease considering that neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Mozambique have also reported high cases of cholera.
As of last week, Lake Chirwa districts of Phalombe, Machinga and Zomba and two Eastern Region districts were already grappling with the rapidly dehydrating disease where six fatalities have since been registered.
Malawi piloted the vaccine last year in Lower Shire district of Nsanje with 320, 000doses approved and shipped for trial.
The campaign targeted 106, 482 people in 19 flood camps with the international vaccine institute and International cooperation group providing 320, 000 doses.
WHO believes it is much cheaper to deal with the viral disease with a vaccine compared to direct treatment as currently enshrined in the country disease control approach.
Our findings show that upon success of the vaccine in Nsanje, the country placed a request of close to 80, 000 vaccines to the Global Response Committee on cholera but high cases of the disease that is caused mainly by faecal contamination of water and food due to poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water in neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Mozambique are delaying the country’s request.
WHO collaborated The Daily Times findings.
“We requested for 78, 850 doses with an addition of some dosages for contingency taking the figure to 80, 000 targeting hot spot districts practically Lake Chilwa districts of Phalombe, Zomba and Machinga. We are still waiting for approval from the Global Committee to have the vaccines.
“Neighbouring countries like Tanzania and Mozambique are endemic to Cholera and this year has registered high cases of cholera and the Global Committee is considering them as a priority,” disclosed Kelias Msyamboza, Disease Prevention and Control officer at WHO.
As of the first quota of 2015, the vaccine was costing WHO which procures it for the needy countries USD 1.85 million, including shipping costs.
Information sourced from WHO website indicates that Tanzania, as of October 19 2015, had cumulatively recoded 4,835 cases with 68 deaths.
The number increased to 9,871 reported cases with 150 fatalities as of November 26, 2015, according to Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) of Tanzania.
According to Msyamboza, though Mozambique has also reported cholera and that cross border spread cannot be ruled out, most of the cases recorded this cholera season are from within Malawi.
He, however, was quick to say that all hope has not been lost in the country’s quest to get the vaccine.
“Neighbouring countries have higher cases and that to the global committee is a priority but we are still hopping that our request will get a nod,” Msyamboza said.
Ministry of Health Director of Preventive Health Services Storn Kabuluzi said cholera treatment centres have been established in the Lake Chilwa districts and that response to the viral disease have stepped up.
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