The Ministry of Health (MoH) will vaccinate people living in areas around Lake Chirwa in order to curb Cholera outbreaks in Machinga, Zomba and Phalombe.
The vaccination exercise will be carried out in collaboration with Zomba District Health Office (DHO) and will see over 30,000 people aged one and above receiving the oral cholera vaccine.
According to Zomba DHO, areas to be vaccinated include Kachulu, Mchenga, Magwere, Jalasi, Chilipaine, Mtolongo, Chipengule, Chiphanga, Nkuba, Katanda, Muhamadu, Namombe, Lundu, Chidyamphiri Island, Chisi Island, Thongwe Island, Chinguma, Lungazi, Ngotangota and the floating homes (Zimbowera).
Officials said the vaccine works for five years but the MoH has no immediate plans to roll out to other areas in the district.
Making a presentation at an extraordinary stakeholders meeting in Zomba, Zomba DHO representative Michael Luhanga said government proposed to conduct the cholera vaccination campaign to protect people at risk of getting the disease which affects communities without access to good water, sanitation and hygiene.
In his presentation, Luhanga said the campaign would be carried out in five days including two days of mop up starting from 16 to 22 February during the first round.
“The campaign is expected to be carried out in two rounds from February 16 to February 22 and the second round starting from 9 to 14 March this year,” explained Luhanga.
He added that the vaccine is prequalified by World Health Organisation for two doses administered two weeks apart.
“The cholera vaccine, known as Shankol is said to be very well tolerated and effective if taken in two doses per individual,” he said.
In his remarks, District Commissioner for Zomba, Bennet Nkasala urged chiefs and other local leaders including councillors who were present to take the message seriously to people in rural areas where the campaign will be conducted. He added that sometimes people may have negative attitudes towards such messages not knowing that they are intended to protect them.
On his part, Group Village Headman Nsoni from the cholera prone area of Lungazi commended Zomba DHO for the commitment shown during the outbreak to protect lives of people.
District Health Officer Dr. Gift Kawalazira assured people that his office is trying its best to take care of people who have been affected by the disease and put measures in place to avoid further spread of the disease to other areas.
He however, asked all stakeholders to join efforts in addressing the cholera issues in the district noting that the number one vaccine of cholera is hygiene.
This is the second time the Ministry of Health is conducting Oral Cholera Vaccination after Nsanje and Chikhwawa districts last year where the effectiveness of the vaccine has been observed.
According to MoH, the two districts have not yet registered any cholera case since the rains started early 2015.