Cholera vaccination misses set target

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Only 1.4 million people has received The First phase Cholera Vaccination, which targeted about 1.9 million people in eight districts of the Southern Region.

The figures of those who have received the Vaccination present 70.1 percent of the total targeted people.

The districts that are targeted to receive the Vaccination are Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Mulanje, Blantyre, Machinga, Balaka and Mangochi.

According to the Ministry of Health cholera vaccine summary, out of the vaccinated group, 752 676 people (55 percent) were females, 612 294 (45 percent) were males while 236 724 were children aged between one and 14.

The summary further indicates that the mass oral cholera vaccination which rolled out on May 23, encountered several challenges including inadequate supplies of chlorine, personal protective equipment and rehydration solutions.

Other challenges were people’s resistance to change, negative religious influences against vaccines, mobile populations and poor cross-border collaboration.

In an interview on Sunday, Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said his ministry is facing challenges to contain cholera outbreak new cases are being imported from neighbouring Mozambique.

His sentiments follow Public Health Institute of Malawi cholera updates which show that the number of cases and deaths continue to rise.

Chikumbe observed that people along Malawi and Mozambique borders interact a lot, while people in urban areas resist preventive measures or getting the vaccines, which is contributing to the rising cases.

Public health experts Professor Adamson Muula and Dr. Gama Bandawe observed that the rising number of cases means that many people use contaminated foods and water.

“The key thing is to take care of water. If people are able to get clean water and then hygiene, then we will be on our way out. You can’t leave everything else and then concentrate on the vaccine,” said Muula.

Bandawe feared that Malawi will continue to struggle with cholera if people have no access to potable water.

He said: “Cholera is a simple disease, but what we need to do is to be more focused.”
Spot-checks in some public markets in Blantyre show that it is business as usual despite the rising cases. Most of the  markets have inadequate toilets and sources of potable water
As of Monday, the country had cumulatively registered 648 cholera cases with 33 deaths.

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