Malawi is currently experiencing the deadliest outbreak of cholera in the country’s history. A public health emergency was declared in early December 2022, and there are already 51,568 cases and 1,612 associated deaths reported from all 29 districts as of 6th March 2023.
The country is already struggling to respond to a polio outbreak and ongoing COVID-19 cases across the nation, as well as the impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy. Resources are limited, the health system is overburdened, and health workers are stretched to their limits (UNICEF). Moreover, it is now the annual lean season in Malawi, a period of time when many families have to cope with limited resources and nutrition.
"Today an estimated 4.8 million children, or one in two children in the country, are in humanitarian need. By the end of March, almost a quarter of a million children (more than 213,000) under five years of age are expected to be acutely malnourished, with over 62,000 expected to be severely malnourished. As a severely malnourished child is 11 times more likely to die from cholera than a well-nourished child, a bout of cholera may amount to a death sentence for thousands of children in Malawi.” - Rudolf Schwenk UNICEF Representative in Malawi (Geneva Palais Briefing)
The Mangochi district bordering Lake Malawi where Doctors Worldwide currently works is now the most affected area, reporting 6974 cases and 114 deaths so far. In response, we are working to train local community leaders in Cholera Public Health awareness across healthcare facilities and mosques in the rural areas of Mangochi. Simple, but impactful messaging, posters, leaflets and talks are scheduled to be distributed and held over a week in spaces and organisations well connected to the community, including life-saving information on techniques to reduce the spread of cholera, and health services that can be accessed for vaccines, medication and rehydration.