As of January 2023, Malawi has been grappling with a cholera outbreak that has affected multiple districts across the country since the first case was registered in March 2022. Accumulatively, the country has registered 22,010 confirmed cases and 731 deaths. The Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM), through its network of health facilities and community-based organizations, has been at the forefront of the response to this crisis.
Under the leadership of its Executive Director, Mr. Happy E. Makala, CHAM has been providing essential services such as cholera case management, water and sanitation interventions, and health education to communities affected by the outbreak.
CHAM’s health facilities have been designated as cholera treatment centers, providing comprehensive care to those affected by the disease. The organization has also been working closely with local communities to promote good hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing and proper sanitation, to prevent the further spread of the disease.
Likuni Mission Hospital, a CHAM-affiliated healthcare facility, has demonstrated exceptional success in managing cholera cases within the community. On December 17, 2022, the facility reported its first case of cholera. Since then, the hospital has seen a total of 221 cholera cases, with only one reported death. Despite the overwhelming patient influx, the hospital has been able to effectively contain the spread of the disease.
Mr. John Kanyerere, the Environmental Health Officer at Likuni, reported that the facility sees an average of 23 patients per day. The hospital attributes its success to a combination of factors, including the dedication and hard work of the hospital staff, as well as the implementation of effective measures to control the spread of cholera. These measures include ensuring proper sanitation and hygiene protocols, providing education on cholera prevention, and prompt treatment of patients.
The success of Likuni Mission Hospital in managing cholera cases serves as a shining example of the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach to containing infectious diseases. The hospital’s efforts serve as a model for other healthcare facilities facing similar challenges in managing outbreaks and controlling the spread of disease within the community.
CHAM will continue to support the Ministry of Health in disease surveillance activities and case investigations, providing technical assistance in data management, and assisting in community mobilization activities to increase awareness about cholera and how to prevent it.
Mr. Makala stated that “We have rapidly scaled up our response to this outbreak and are committed to working closely with the Ministry of Health and other partners to bring it under control. We are also committed to reaching and supporting the most vulnerable communities affected by the outbreak.”
Thanks to the efforts of CHAM and other organizations, the number of cholera cases has started to decrease, and the number of deaths has also gone down. CHAM will continue to play a critical role in the response to the outbreak and in supporting communities to build resilience against future cholera epidemics.