Malawi Runs Short of Cholera Vaccine Amid Major Outbreak

Children receive OCV in Lilongwe Children receive OCV in Lilongwe Pic Courtesy of WHO Africa

Lilongwe: The Ministry of Health in Malawi says it is uncertain when the country will receive another consignment of oral cholera vaccine as there is a high demand of the vaccines globally which is putting pressure on donors.

Epidemiology Officer in the ministry Wiseman Chimwaza says currently the country has slightly over 200,000 cholera vaccine doses from the 2.9 million that it received from the World Health Organization on 7 November last year.

He has appealed to the citizenry to continue practicing good hygiene, among other measures, to prevent the disease.

“It is very difficult to say when we can have the next consignment of the vaccine. Yes, it is our wish to have the vaccine even today, but the demand for the vaccine globally is very high,” he said.

He adds, “It is very important to concentrate on the provision of safe water to the general public and of course making sure sanitation is practiced in all the areas.”

The vaccine is currently being administered in Blantyre and Lilongwe cities where there is a spike in cholera cases.

Meanwhile, a health rights activist, George Jobe, has urged the ministry to hold talks with the World Health Organization (WHO) to urgently consider Malawi to be among the recipients of the vaccine, considering the high number of deaths it is recording.

“It is just unfortunate that the numbers continue to rise because at the time the cholera vaccine was ordered, the numbers were not as high as now. Our wish is that the World Health Organization will intervene to ensure that the suppliers consider Malawi again because we are in a dire need of the supply,” he said.

The ministry of health says the rise in the number of deaths is as a result of reluctance by people to report to hospital when they have symptoms of cholera, either due to religious beliefs or mere negligence.

As of 2 January, the country had recorded 18,222 cases of cholera and 620 deaths. The current outbreak started in March last year.

Meanwhile, there are fears that the cases would further rise as the country has now entered a rainy season.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 03/01/2023

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