Cholera deaths in Malawi pass 1,000

Cholera deaths in Malawi pass 1,000

Sawako Utsumi and Sawako Uchida

Modern Tokyo Times

The cholera outbreak now accounts for just over 1,000 deaths in Malawi. This is the worst outbreak in several decades.

In total, confirmed cases have reached 30,621. Of these, 1,002 people have died from cholera. This is a case fatality rate of 3.27 percent.

Reuters reports, “Most of the deaths occurred in the two main cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre where children have recently gone back to classes after schools delayed opening to try and contain the spread.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “Cholera is endemic in Malawi with seasonal outbreaks reported during the wet season. Since 1998, cholera cases have been reported in the country with significant morbidity and mortality in affected populations, especially in the southern region, which is low-lying, flat, and prone to flooding during the rainy season.”

Alarmingly for Malawi, the WHO reported in December that the global stockpile of cholera vaccines was “empty or extremely low.”

The Minister of Health, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, warned that some traditional burial rites are problematic and lead to contamination.

Chiponda said, “For example, people who are dying of or who have died from cholera may be washed by family members, who then prepare funeral feasts for family and friends held very soon after death. Outbreaks of cholera commonly follow these feasts.” 

African News reports, “Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease spread via contaminated water and food which can cause severe dehydration. It is a bacterial disease that affects both children and adults.” 

Concerning the two main cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre hit by cholera – neither has adequate draining.

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