The World Health Organization (WHO) stated Thursday–Malawi is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in the country’s history.
Since the first cholera case in March 2022 in Machinga District, all 29 health districts in the country have reported cholera cases. In the last 14 days, the disease has been reported in 23 districts, while the outbreak is controlled in six districts.
As of April 15, 2023, the cumulative confirmed cases and deaths is 57,786 and 1,736, respectively, with a case fatality rate of 3.0%.
Since the onset of the outbreak, Lilongwe has reported the most cases (12,639 cases and 558 deaths), Blantyre (8,620/217) and Mangochi (8,487/124).
In March 2023, Tropical Cyclone Freddy that hit 15 districts of Southern Malawi affecting some 2 million people and over 600 thousand people becoming internally displaced. With water and sanitation facilities damaged, residents in the affected areas are vulnerable to disease outbreaks, especially waterborne diseases such as cholera.
WHO says Malawi has received 1.4 million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV) from the International Coordinating Group (ICG) with support from GAVI. WHO recommends the use of OCV as an additional measure to limit the spread of cholera during outbreaks.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It is a serious disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration. Cholera affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated. Recommended cholera disease prevention and control measures include providing safe drinking water and proper sanitation to at-risk populations and timely and appropriate healthcare for those with clinical disease.