In the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre, many children did not return to school on Tuesday as planned because of cholera. The health ministry instructed that the reopening of schools be delayed as part of efforts to mitigate the spread of the infection in Malawi.
The ministry announced that children in primary and secondary schools in the selected areas will not resume school for the next two weeks but for many residents, the decision came a little too late, according to local media. They contend plans have been made to send their children to especially boarding schools. They’re also worried that affected students could miss out on writing certification exams.
However, the Director of Health Services, Dr. Queen Dube explained that the decision was taken after considering cholera transmission data during and after the holidays. Dube assured parents that adequate provisions will be made to ensure lost classroom hours are restored. She said their priority is to first and foremost keep the children safe.
Speaking on Village Square Africa on News Central Television, Dube disclosed that Malawi has only 200,000 Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV) left for the inoculation of the entire country. Earlier, Malawi received 2.9 million OCVs but it recently requested more due to the rapid spread of infections.
Of the over 18,000 cases recorded in all 30 districts, at least 600 have ended up in deaths while more than 16,000 have recovered according to the ministry of health. The WHO considers the current outbreak the worst in a decade for Malawi.
Cholera causes severe acute watery diarrhoea resulting in high illness and deaths. It can also spread rapidly, depending on the frequency of exposure, the exposed population, and the setting. The infection affects both children and adults and can be fatal within hours if left untreated.
Health activist, Maziko Matemba said people must take their personal hygiene seriously, he also called on the government to take some long-term measures to curtail the recurrence of the disease in the country.
According to the WHO, more than one million cases of the disease were recorded last year across the world. In Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Burundi are some of the countries experiencing an outbreak but the disease transmission also threatens Malawi’s northern neighbours like Tanzania and Zambia.
Health equity advocate, George Jobe cautioned that as the disease continues to plague the nation, care must be taken so as not to deprive any group of preventive care and treatment.
Watch the full interview on this episode of Village Square Africa here:
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