The U.N.’s children’s agency, UNICEF, has handed over lifesaving supplies worth about $300,000 to support Malawi’s fight against a cholera outbreak which has killed more than 700 people – including 104 children – since the outbreak began in March of last year.
The supplies include Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) kits, high-performance tents, antibiotics and other medicines and medical supplies.
The donation follows Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera’s December 5 declaration of a public health emergency and appeal for local and international support in the fight against the cholera outbreak.
Rudolf Schwenk is the country representative for UNICEF in Malawi.
“We will continue to support the ministry of health to scale up the Cholera response. And we fully appreciate the tireless efforts from frontline health and community workers to manage the influx of cholera cases,” Schwenk said. “With more than 6,269 children already affected and 100 deaths, the spread of this outbreak is a threat to the health and wellbeing of children.”
UNICEF says it secured the supplies and chartered a special flight to Malawi with support from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Statistics from the Public Health Institute of Malawi show that as of Thursday, the disease had killed 773 people, including 104 children, and resulted in 23,217 cholera cases since the outbreak started in March last year.
Maziko Matemba is community health ambassador in Malawi. He says the supplies come at a time when Malawi is in critical need of them.
“This calls upon the government and its key stakeholders to find a mechanism on how to prepare for emergencies of this nature because they will keep on coming,” Matemba said.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with bacteria. The disease affects both children and adults, and if untreated can kill within hours.
The Malawi ministry of health says the fatality rate of the outbreak is now at 3.33%, much higher than the recommended 1% global threshold.