Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Malawi: Cholera situation improves

Posted on Friday 9 January 2009 - by Sam Banda Jnr, AfricaNews reporter in Blantyre, Malawi

The cholera outbreak which has hit Malawi's capital city, Lilongwe is reported to have improved with a few cases registered as of Wednesday. The cholera situation brought fear to the country on Sunday when 13 people were said to have been killed.

According to the country’s health officials, the disease has mainly been caused by people drinking unsafe water and lack of hygiene.

The Principal Secretary of Health, Chris Kang’ombe, was quoted by the country’s local daily, The Nation, that as of Wednesday only 17 cases were registered at Chilinde cholera camp with six at Area 6 Talima cholera camp.

“There is some improvement though on some days the numbers may rise again,” Kang’ombe said.

The cases have dropped because as of Sunday the camps were registering over 20 cases.

The southern African country has so far created three cholera treatment camps in the capital city and they are Chilinde, Talima and Phwetekere.

Signs of the disease were noted in December last year and as of December 17 it was reported to have claimed five lives.

Malawi which has three regions namely north, central and southern has a population of 13.1 million people.

Though the country has safe water in most parts, the rural areas still lag behind in accessing safe water and this could actually get worse with the rainy season.

Another southern African country, Zimbabwe is also battling with the disease which according to World Health Organisation (WHO) has now claimed over 1,700 lives.

Recently the country’s health minister David Parirenyatwa said the rainy season would accelerate the cholera situation.

Cholera

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but sometimes it can be severe. According to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 20 infected persons has the severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. The disease is also said to bring, rapid loss of body fluids that leads to dehydration and shock and that without treatment, death can occur within hours.