Concern over congestion at Dzaleka amid COVID-19 pandemic


Written by  Tiyanjane Mambucha– MANA

Dzaleka refugee camp which was initially designed to accommodate only 10,000 refugees is now accommodating over 46,000 refugees which is said to be posing a threat to the COVID-19 fight.

Speaking at Dzaleka Health Centre on Tuesday during a donation ceremony of medical drugs and Personal Potective Equipment (PPEs) by an organization called There is Hope (TIH) UNHCR Malawi Senior Protection Officer, Henock Ochalla said congestion in the camp puts the refugees at high risk.

He said in case the camp experiences a covid-19 case it will be difficult to prevent spread because people live in close proximity.

“When you look at the population we have here in this camp, it’s a cause for concern interms of congestion and poor sanitation available in the camp,” he said.

He said such concerns call for a thorough preparation for the Covid-19 pandamic, to make sure they don’t experience or witness an escalation of the situation.

He added that they have been following the national guidelines on preparedness and so far a reception center where they are currently hosting new arrivals is ready and isolation unit which has a capacity of 60 beds.

“This isolation unit is divided into two, one unit will serve cases with mild symptoms and the other unit major symptoms in case we have registered cases,” said Ochalla.

Executive Officer for TIH, Innocent Magambi said his organization received a consignment of medical drugs and PPEs costing about 43 Million Malawi Kwacha from Canada through partners under International Association of Refugees (IFR).

“Our main work at TIH is education, but since schools are closed because of Covid-19, we thought of giving a hand in fighting this pandemic.

“We asked our partners to help the facility with medical drugs and also protective gears. Apart from this donation, our campass has  been making and distributing face masks in the camp and surrounding communities,” Ochalla said.

Health Project Coordinator for UNHCR funded projects, Gideon Kapalasa said the donation is a combination of drugs and protective equipment expected to serve over 80 percent of Dzaleka assylum seekers and the host community.

“Shortage of drugs has been a challenge at this health facillity more especially essential drugs, so this is a timely donation, the drugs will go a long way in assisting patients.

“As for the protective gears, they are also important to our health workers, with the presence of covid-19 pandemic we know for sure that prevention is key so we do not want to face a situation where we have run out of protective gears,” said Kapalasa.

Malawi has a total of 369 cases with 51 total recoveries and 4 deaths.