WHO Declares Malawi’s Cholera Outbreak Largest in Africa


The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled Malawi’s current cholera outbreak as the biggest in Africa. The country has reported almost 40% of the total number of cases recorded across 12 African countries. WHO Regional Health Security Advisor Ambrose Talisuna announced this at a meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi, attended by technocrats from 14 African countries that are affected or at risk of being affected by cholera. The meeting was a prelude to a high-level gathering of ministers from the same countries scheduled to take place on Friday, also in Lilongwe. The ministers’ meeting will address how to contain cholera and other climate change-related issues on the continent.

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As of March 5, Malawi had recorded the highest number of cases of cholera, at 51,287, out of 129,295 cases recorded in the 12 countries. Of the 3,016 deaths in the 12 countries recorded by the same date, 53.2% were in Malawi, according to Talisuna. He attributed the outbreak to climate change and cross-border movements, which require surveillance and harmonizing interventions with countries in the Southern African Development Community.

Talisuna urged the attending ministers to renew their commitment to eliminating cholera epidemics by 2030, saying the continent is lagging behind. Malawian Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda agreed with Talisuna, expressing hope that the “Tithetse Kolera (Let’s End Cholera) Campaign” launched by President Lazarus Chakwera on February 13 is seeing a decline in cases and deaths. Chiponda said the ministry and stakeholders are taking the campaign door-to-door and aim to cover all 49,000 villages in the country. The ministers’ meeting will be opened by Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima, while Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, the current Cholera Elimination Champion, will address the meeting via video link.

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