Cholera kills 1,200+ in Malawi, leaves one billion at risk: WHO
WHO expresses concern that the crisis in Malawi is occurring against a backdrop of surging cholera outbreaks worldwide.
With at least 1,210 people killed by the deadliest cholera outbreak in Malawi’s history, the World Health Organization announced on Thursday that vaccines remain scarce.
With nearly 37,000 reported cases since March 2022, the southern African nation is seeing a 143% increase in the overall number of cases last month compared to December.
WHO stated that the active transmission is ongoing in 27 out of 29 Malawi districts, warning that the outbreak will continue to worsen without strong interventions.
The UN health agency pointed out that this crisis has grown with the lack of availability of vaccines, tests, and treatments.
Even with Malawi carrying out two large vaccination campaigns, attempts to aid the country in this disaster were hindered due to the limited amount of supplies. Even after receiving the second batch of almost three million doses from the UN in November, WHO still announced that 96.8% of the population is residing in “communities with high risk and burden of cholera.”
With a billion at risk, the WHO strives to improve sanitation and access to clean water, while adapting house-to-house chlorination in affected communities. The main symptoms of cholera include diarrhea and vomiting, which mainly comes from contaminated food or water.
Read more: Cholera Outbreak Kills over 2,300 in Nigeria
The threat of an international spread and an increase in the number of infected individuals still cause worry as confirmed cases have already been reported across the border in Mozambique and Haiti.
Not only does WHO refer to the current risk of transferring the disease to neighboring countries as “very high”, but they also warn against a global cholera outbreak. Climate change is also fueling this outburst in several countries.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned reporters on Wednesday that there are more than 1 billion people in the world at risk as 23 countries in the world are experiencing cholera outbreaks, with a further 20 countries that share land borders with them at risk.
"In total, more than one billion people around the world are directly at risk of cholera," he warned.