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By Brighton Tchongwe
ActionAid Malawi has urged the Malawi government to take the escalating cholera situation in the country as a wake-up call to discard public sector austerity measures and start investing more resources in water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) and other gender-responsive services.
The charity’s call comes after Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera last week launched the “Tithetse Cholera m’Malawi campaign” at Mgona in Lilongwe.
The Malawi leader also conceded in his State of Nation Address last Friday that the cholera crisis is as a result of “collective neglect.”
While welcoming the appeal for support, ActionAid Malawi says the cholera crisis is a clear manifestation of the country’s limited investment in Health and WASH sectors, a development that slows down the country’s progress towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 6.
ActionAid Malawi Executive Director, Pamela Kuwali said the organisation believes government’s austerity measures including staff recruitment freeze in public sector have resulted in multiple sufferings for vulnerable groups especially women, girls who have been pushed further below the poverty ladder.
“The cholera outbreak has significantly disrupted the delivery of health services in Malawi which is still struggling with the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Like any other emergency, the cholera outbreak has disproportionately affected women and girls, increasing the unpaid care work burden as they support those affected,” said Kuwali.
“We call upon the government and non-state actors to rise to the emergency by ensuring that care, treatment and preventive measures reach all at risk of the outbreak.
The cholera outbreak presents an opportunity to Malawi government to abandon austerity measures, re-look its expenditure priority and invest resources towards key gender-responsive public services in line with Malawi government’s commitments such as the Abuja Health Declaration and the Universal Health Coverage spelt out in the Malawi Health Sector Strategic Plan,” she added.
Since the cholera first case was recorded in March, 2022, ActionAid Malawi and its local partners have been implementing various interventions in the communities to prevent the spread of the cholera.
Malawi is experiencing the worst Cholera crisis which by 19th February, 2023 claimed 1,468 lives and recorded 45, 784 cases across the country.
Meanwhile, the crisis has forced the government through the Ministry of Health to appeal for more support from well-wishers and Development partners.
The government said in the recent press release the support would enable the ministry of Health cover various gaps being currently experienced in prevention, control and management of the cases across the country.
In November, 2022 the organisation donated medical supplies support worth K14 million towards cholera response in Rumphi and Mzimba districts.