Cholera Outbreak Kills 6 in Malawi

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The cholera outbreak in Malawi starting last November has killed six people, with recorded cases reaching 434 in the southern African country, authorities said Sunday.

The outbreak was first reported in the border district of Karonga, which witnessed four of the cholera-related deaths.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed concern over rising cholera infections in the country, urging authorities to immediately enhance hygiene and sanitary measures.

Johannes Wedening, UNICEF’s country representative in Malawi, told local radio station Zodiak on Sunday that people there need clean and portable water if the cholera outbreak is to be contained, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I’m going out quite frequently seeing for myself, and what I have observed in Lilongwe is that although the population accesses water from the Lilongwe Water Board, there are many people accessing water from shallow wells and bole holes where the water is highly contaminated,” Wedening said.

“As long as people don’t change the behavior of using unsafe water, it will be very difficult to contain the cholera outbreak,” he warned.

Wedening said the key issues for curbing the outbreak is safe water and good sanitation practices, such as washing hands after toilet and before eating.

Malawi’s Health Minister Atupele Muluzi said Friday that the first batch of 216,000 oral vaccines from the World Health Organization is expected to arrive in the country soon and be distributed to about 108,000 people in Karonga.

He said another 450,000 doses are expected to arrive later to be distributed to other cholera-prone districts in the country. Besides Karonga, the capital city of Lilongwe is also hit hard by the disease.

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