Funds deficit hinders response to cholera in Malawi


Cholera outbreak in Malawi. File photo

from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
Malawi Bureau
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – THE humanitarian community is making frantic efforts to secure funds to respond to the worst cholera outbreak in Malawi.
Cholera is the latest setback in the impoverished Southern African country of 20 million people.At least 1 722 people have died in Malawi from 56 763 cases reported since early last year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as of this week.

At the end of March, the United Nations Office for the Coordination Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) announced a US$115 million Malawi Cholera and Floods Flash Appeal.

This is to assist 4,8 million of the 5,9 million people in need due to the cholera outbreak and the damage and destruction caused by extreme weather and floods.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has now appealed for Swiss ₣3,5 million ($3,87 million) to respond to the cholera crisis.

The emergency appeal is only 13 percent funded since it was launched in late January.

IFRC stated that further funding contributions are needed to enable Malawi Red Cross, with the support of the IFRC, to continue the Cholera Response as outlined in the Operational Strategy.

Nonetheless, IFRC has allocated ₣748 286 to assist more than 2,1 million people most vulnerable to the water borne disease.

IFRC has lamented how the cholera response registered a new complication due to the Tropical Cyclone Freddy making landfall in the Southern districts of Malawi in mid-March.

The recurrent storms damaged numerous health facilities.

There has been severe damage to water systems in Blantyre city and water points, sanitation facilities including latrines in communities and institutions, contamination of surface waters and damage to water points.

These setbacks are conducive for the spread of cholera.

“The damage to the households is likely to pose food security and malnutrition, given the important vicious loop between diarrheal diseases and malnutrition,” said a spokesperson of the IFRC.

Malawi’s outbreak is the most severe in the continent at the moment, contributing 52 percent to the 3 288 deaths WHO has documented in the continent this year.

It contributes 35 percent of the total 160 756 suspected cases.

The first case in Malawi was registered in the southern district of Machinga in March 2022.

All the 29 health districts have reported cholera cases since the confirmation of the first case to date.

“Generally, the outbreak is increasing over time in terms of magnitude and geographical spread,” IFRC stated.

President Lazarus Chakwera’s government last December declared cholera a public health emergency.

A state of disaster was declared following Cyclone Freddy, which has left at least 676 people injured, 533 missing and 1 724 missing.

– CAJ News

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