from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) is wary of the ongoing cholera outbreak degenerating into the worst eruption of the water borne disease in a decade.
At an urgent meeting in Malawi, ministers of health, water, sanitation and environment from 11 countries proposed an establishment of the Africa Elimination of Cholera Epidemics Coordination Task Force (AECECT) of the African Union (AU).
They requested urgent action to ensure cooperation and collaboration on the preparedness, readiness and response to address the cholera epidemics.
The government officials also called for action to curb other waterborne diseases and climate-related public health emergencies.
With 130 705 cholera cases and including 3 052 deaths registered in Africa, to date since 2022, ministers fear the rapidly rising trend could lead to a higher number of cases recorded than that of 2021 ‒ the worst year for cholera in the continent in nearly a decade.
This as the continent witnesses cholera outbreaks in areas not usually affected by the disease.
A total of 13 countries in the WHO African region are currently faced with a cholera outbreak, with a continued risk of cross-border infection.
“With robust preparedness, readiness and coordinated responses at border crossings, we believe that it is possible to end cholera outbreaks in Southern Africa and to achieve regional targets in eliminating the disease to guarantee a healthy future to our populations,” said Khumbize Chiponda, Minister of Health in Malawi, said.
Chiponda was speaking at the just-concluded high-level ministerial meeting on “Cholera Epidemics and Climate-related Public Health Emergencies in the capital, Lilongwe.
Malawi organized the meeting with support from World Health Organisation (WHO), Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“This collective call for concerted efforts comes at the right time,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“We can defeat cholera epidemics and mitigate the impact of climate-related public health emergencies by working together in multi sectoral partnerships, aided by adequate political commitment and investment. Together, we can bring current cholera outbreaks in the region to an end and save many lives.”
A number of Southern African countries responding to the cholera outbreak are also contending with intermittent polio cases.
Malawi, the worst affected by cholera (608 deaths), confirmed its first case in 30 years, in February 2022.
– CAJ News