There is fear that Malawi could be hit by cholera outbreak following reports of the outbreak hitting neighbouring Mozambique.
This is according to the Ministry of Health which on Saturday issued a press statement informing the general public of the development.
The ministry through its chief of health services Dr. Charles Mwansambo said it has received reports of a cholera outbreak in Mozambique, in communities neighbouring Malawi.
According to Mwansambo, some of the affected areas include Moatize in Tete which is a popular destination township for shopping not only for people from neighbouring districts of Mwanza but also for thousands of businesspeople from across the country.
He said three people from Mozambique are reported to have been treated as cholera suspected cases at Gaga Health Centre in Changoima which is situated close to the border with Mozambique in Chikhwawa district.
“These patients tested positive to cholera using Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) and the Ministry is in the process of confirming the tests at the Community Health Sciences Laboratory in Lilongwe.
“The Chikhwawa district health office is working together with their counterparts on the Mozambique side to control the problem especially the area where these patients live in Mozambique,” reads part of the statement.
The statement also stated that Mwanza District Health Office is also working with their counterparts in Mozambique to ensure that the disease is prevented from affecting travellers between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the ministry has advised people in the country especially those travelling to the affected destinations in Mozambique to exercise great caution and practice safe hygiene.
People in the country are also being reminded to go to the hospital early if they develop diarrhoea or if they are suffering from any other disease as medical supplies for treatment of cholera patients are available in all health facilities in the country.
The ministry has assured Malawians that it is doing everything possible to prevent any cholera outbreak that may arise from the visits to this area and also within the country.
“All health workers and Port Health Officers in the country have been put on alert with increased surveillance of any diarrhoeal cases. The ministry is also distributing chlorine to the communities for water treatment. In addition, the ministry is sending out cholera control information to all people including those travelling to the cholera affected places in Mozambique,” said Mwansambo in the statement.
In Malawi, there has been no cholera case reported this rainy season.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium called “vibrio cholerae”. The disease affects both children and adults and if untreated it can kill within hours.
The disease can be prevented by proper use of latrines, washing hands after visiting the toilet or before handling food, using safe/treated water all the time and practising food hygiene.