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Dowa needs multi-sectoral collaboration to contain cholera

Dowa District Hospital’s Environmental Health Officer [EHO] Precious Mzungu, has called for multi-sectoral collaboration to contain the outbreak of cholera in the district.
Mzungu observed that the communities in the district particularly in the hard to reach areas are not complying with the preventive and management measures for cholera outbreak saying they are still using untreated water from shallow wells.
He said communities in the district are still dancing to the tune of cholera, boreholes are far away, in some areas eleven villages are sharing one borehole, when given chlorine they are not using it claiming it is too smelly forcing them to still use contaminated shallow wells.
Speaking in an interview, Mzungu said on 12th October, 2022 the District Health Office got an alarm from Msakambewa health centre that one person was contaminated with cholera disease, saying he went to Nkhotakota district to buy fish for selling.
Mzungu said from that day, cases of cholera were being reported from health facilities across the district citing Matekenya 3, Dzaleka 9, Mvera mission 58 while Mvera Army 90 a development which raised fear and panic among the residents in the district.
He said areas of Traditional Authority Chiwere have been heavily affected with cholera cases as evidenced with figures recorded at Mvera mission and Mvera Army saying this is so because the people there use two rivers as a source of drinking water.
The officer also added that some communities in the areas of Traditional Authority Chiwere do not use latrines properly hence practice open defecation in the nearby bushes saying this is putting them at risk of cholera
He said Dzaleka Health Centre recorded 9 cases saying surprisingly 7 cases were from outside the camp while 2 were from the camp saying this made the District Health Office to increase awareness messages to the surrounding communities on the prevention, management and cure of cholera disease.
….’’As the figures are being registered in the district, everyone has the responsibility to prevent, manage and cure the disease by adhering to health messages, cholera is preventable and treatable disease,’’….said Mzungu.
He said it was also established that communities of Chiwere do not use latrines despite the area four years ago declared Open Defecation Free [ODF] status, people are still using the bushes to answer the calls of nature as the whole area is hilly claiming that some people are resisting chlorine opting to use the same unprotected water.
Mzungu said religious beliefs is also fueling the further spread of cholera in the district saying health officials accompanied by police officers confronted members of the Zion Church of Matekenya for a follow-up case and contact tracing of a cholera suspect.
The officer said the District Health Response Team is still lobbying for funds from partners to conduct community awareness meetings with churches, schools and food and hygiene premises infection saying with a little resource to support the District Health Office they can cover many areas as only 3 out of 25 places have been visited.
He said the District Response Team has good plans to contain the outbreak of cholera but resources are a challenge thanking two organizations Momentum and World Vision for being friends in need with their timely assistance on chlorine.
Mzungu said despite the District Health Office registering increasing cases of cholera, it is in stock out of essential supplies such as ORS, cases are still being reported saying cholera disease needs serious attention by both government and partners.

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